Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

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Henry Vilas
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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:33 am

Stebben84 wrote:Also consider this. 6% of the population in Wisconsin is African American and we are on the waaaaay low side of percentages, yet we lock up the highest number.

Here is a possible explanation, from the link in my previous post:
With just 6 percent of the population, blacks in Wisconsin have little political power. And if the black population were larger, the state would go bankrupt if it placed a large percentage of them in the criminal justice system.

"You can only afford to have these mass incarcerations of African Americans if they're a pretty small part of the population," she said.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Bludgeon » Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:50 am

gargantua wrote:Peripat nailed it. The point of the thread isn't to get lost in the data about the various and sundry reasons why people in Wisconsin are incarcerated.

Peripat's lost alright. I disagree - I say it's not the one thing, it's the dismal tide. There are some specifics you only see when you're looking at the big picture.

I'm saying, if you're not looking at a question comprehensively, chances are a person is just out to confirm the bias they already started with. We could give each other one sided information all day long and never say an honest word. We shouldn't want one sided information. We should want to be right because we've determined after exhausting every available resource that this is correct to the best of our knowledge.

If a forum member like Peripat is wilfully misleading himself with a statement like, "Wisconsin is a racist backwoods ignorant peckerwood sort of place where black people are locked up for things that are ignored in white people," - we're not doing him any favors to enable this kind of thoughtless self affirmation. IMO, better to encourage people to substantiate their position.

In my opinion it also doesn't do the black community any favors to send out the message that if enough of them go to jail for doing bad things, eventually there will be no consequences for those things; or that the consequences will be different for them than they are for other people. Generally speaking their incarceration rates reflect their criminality rates, I believe for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Some of these crimes might be frivolous (a small sample), but its no favor to them to claim what wrong they've done is right - that's completely backwards.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby peripat » Thu Sep 19, 2013 12:04 pm

And that is a dictionary definition of prejudice- no fact will alter the opinion, logic will never get in the way of belief.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Stebben84 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:26 pm

Bludgeon wrote:Some of these crimes might be frivolous (a small sample), but its no favor to them to claim what wrong they've done is right - that's completely backwards.


I don't think that's what people are saying. Did it ever occur to you that they are profiled more heavily by the police, hence having the likelihood of being arrested that much greater. Or that, when caught with these petty crimes, more likely to be arrested then sent on their way.

How do you explain the fact that we have one of the lowest percentages of blacks, yet the highest incarceration rate. If you don't take into account any time of racial profiling or prejudice, then the only logical explanation is that apparently blacks in lowly Wisconsin commit more crimes than any other state.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby eriedasch » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:03 pm

Stebben84 wrote:Did it ever occur to you that they are profiled more heavily by the police, hence having the likelihood of being arrested that much greater.

Add to that WI already has some of the stiffest penalities in the nation for such petty crimes as minor pot possession - being caught with any amount 2nd offense in your entire lifetime can bring a felony and a 3.5+ year long prison sentence.

Add to that the majority of blacks arrested don't have the resources to hire good attorneys so they get stuck with a public defender, end up pleaing to a terrible deal and end up doing time. Then they get out on probation, fail 1 drug test and wind up back behind bars. All for pot. WTF?

I know people who have been caught up in WI's incarceration system and it does not surprise me one bit we have such a problem in this state. Not only do we lock up twice as many blacks and non-violent offenders, we also spend twice as much doing it. And that should piss off EVERYONE.

Sure it started back when Thompson was in office (and Doyle was AG) and the drug war and prison building was out of control. Filling WI prisons with low-level offenders continued under most of Doyle's term, but right before he left office he made significant changes to allow early release for non-violent (primarily drug) offenders. In the few short months it was saving tax money with few problems. One of the first things Walker and Republicans did when they took office was kill the early release program.

If only we were doing something to try and change things or fix the problems it might not be so bad. Many "backwards-ass" southern states have medical marijuana bills that are moving forward. Louisiana not long ago reduced minor pot possession penalties throughtout the state. KY passed a hemp bill. Countless other states are seeing benefits to lessening pot and other drug laws.

So what are we doing in WI? The EXACT opposite of what we should be doing. The EXACT opposite of what the rest of the nation and world is doing: All Senate Republicans and MANY DEMOCRATS are passing laws that make it easier to charge people for low level pot crimes when the charges are initially dropped by the DA.

Yes I do understand that simply changing, reducing, or completely eliminating WI's marijuana laws will not magically fix this problem. But can anyone suggest anything else that would do it? At the very least it would be a change for the better, a step in the right direction, a way to reduce prison populations, a way to lessen the bloated incarceration costs in the state and follow public opinion and simple common sense. Does anyone truly believe someone should be charged with a felony, lose their ability to vote, and go to prison for less than 1 gram of pot?

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Bludgeon » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:55 pm

eriedasch wrote:
Yes I do understand that simply changing, reducing, or completely eliminating WI's marijuana laws will not magically fix this problem.


You could legalize pot and barely scratch a percentage point or two. So where does that leave you?

WTB a non-weighted answer.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby eriedasch » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:18 pm

Bludgeon wrote:
eriedasch wrote:
Yes I do understand that simply changing, reducing, or completely eliminating WI's marijuana laws will not magically fix this problem.


You could legalize pot and barely scratch a percentage point or two. So where does that leave you?

A percentage point or two closer to fixing a problem. I am betting more, but we'll never know as long as we continue doing what we are doing. We will also see far fewer people locked up on the tax payer dime who should not be in the system to begin with and more job and tax revenue opportunities.

Not to mention, it leaves us with far more than you have been able to come up with.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby gargantua » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:22 pm

We should do a comprehensive analysis of the reasons Wisconsin's incarceration rate is so much higher than the norm for other states. Once we have those answers, take steps to address those issues.

Please note, in the post above I am not presupposing any answers. I just want a thorough, unbiased analysis please.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Bludgeon » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:54 pm

I think the problem is Wisconsin's incarceration culture in general. New jails are springing up like a blooming cottage industry in Wisconsin. You get these small towns with no industry except the new 15 story jail, and the entire population is white, except the 300 black inmates who have been transfered there for storage from Milwaukee county. Take almost any small town jail in this state, chances are they are getting payed to house inmates from overflowing counties.

Plus, a lack of reciprocity between our sate and Illinois, Michigain and Minnesota. They mayor's not making it up - this is where people come when they're out on bail in Chi-town, or Minneapolis. Take little towns like Janesville and Beloit, they're basically infested with gang bangers from Rockville and Chicago, and Milwaukee goes without saying. If Illinois had to and bothered to take care of their own, perhaps their incarceration rates wouldn't look so sunny at face value. Instead, Wisconsin picks up the tab and gets a bad rap to boot.

You look at the black population in Wisconsin then you look at their rate of incarceration, then you look at who's on our south border and who's on our western border, and it makes a little more sense, in my opinion.

gargantua wrote:We should do a comprehensive analysis of the reasons Wisconsin's incarceration rate is so much higher than the norm for other states.


Agreed, and if it's not comprehensive, they shouldn't release the study, in my opinion.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby roadkill bill » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:58 pm

Also, there's this:

Poor Transit Access and Wisconsin’s Staggering Black Incarceration Rate

UM-Madison’s John Pawasarat and Lois Quinn recently explored this problem as an aspect of the major workforce challenges facing the state. One of their key findings was that for black working-age men in the Milwaukee area, transportation barriers are a major obstacle to employment, restricting their prospects.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:25 pm

You have one of the most segregated cities in the country. There is wide spread poverty in the inner city. Add in parents, who if they are taking care of their kids, are probably working too many jobs to actually be around to influence their children's moral code.
The expected solution is a school district that is somehow supposed to be the salve for all those ills and not surprisingly it has been failing at that for years.
Exactly what do you expect to happen when poor black kids grow up nurtured by institutions while not having a education that will give them a future? Crime sure looks like a better shot out of poverty than any other option they have, and jail really isn't much worse than many of the schools they've spent their young lives in.

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Re: Why does WI send so many black people to jail?

Postby mad_hand » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:09 pm

Just a thought, Wisconsin has mandatory-arrest domestic violence laws on the books.

http://www.nij.gov/publications/dv-dual ... table1.htm

IL and MN don't.

I recall a conversation I had with a detective (with a local police agency) about violent crime a few years back. The thing I took from that was that most violent crime is between people who know each other and that they even have terminology for crime that isn't (stranger-on-stranger) since people usually know the person who attacked them.

I would be interested to see some research into whether beating your domestic partner has different rates of arrest or standards of arrest between WI, IL, and MN? Different rates of prosecution? Maybe even a cultural difference in how certain types of domestic violence is perceived? I know if you come from a place where you can legally walk down the street drinking a beer, it's easy enough to forget that you can't here while you're walking home from a party.

Also, I thought this article was interesting:
http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012 ... lack-child

I wonder if you surveryed people in prison as to whether or not they were physically disciplined as a child, if that would show a higher or lower rate than of non-incarcerated people?

And this is an impressive resource for info:
http://www.sentencingproject.org/map/map.cfm

I guess I wish someone would do a random sampling of inmates incarcerated on a given day and take a detailed look at what they are in for, what their histories are, demographic info, etc. and see if any trends become immediately apparent.


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