I’m sure that everyone in America knows about the badger state of Wisconsin. Our beer, festivals, well known Packers, Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks. And Harley-Davidson, and Summerfest, our ethnic festivals and others.

As far as the negative, well this comes for Prisons and jobs and they involve the African-American population.

Now many of you just read or heard about Wisconsin’s black prison issue. Just recently, NPR, BET and of all local publishers that I like to read, the Shepherd Express published the story background about the dilemma. I have to ask, why so surprised? Really, Why are these organizations that I like to read half the time, are just now reading about this now? Many years ago, I was reading the black newspapers like the Milwaukee Times or the Milwaukee Community Journal  about labeling Wisconsin being “the worst state for black people.” I’m sure MANY in Wisconsin heard that before. Mostly in the black community. Wisconsin has more African-Americans behind bars that any other state in the union. Way over California, way over Illinois, way over Michigan, way over Texas and other places. Long time ago, Eugene Kane commented this in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel back around 2005 when the NAACP had their convention here.  You may want to do a google search on that.


To those living outside of Wisconsin just now looking at this, as a black resident, it’s a well known fact. Matter of fact it’s been a well known fact for a long time. The black population in Wisconsin is around 6.3 percent. And majority of the African-Americans reside in the Southeastern Region of the State. That’s the cities of Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, etc. Just a thought in passing on.

Recently in the articles that are circulated, this story is geared to those who are in their 30’s and 40’s.

More than half of Milwaukee County’s African-American men in their 30s and half of those in their early 40s have served time in state prison, according to a new report by John Pawasarat and Lois M. Quinn at UW-Milwaukee’s Employment and Training Institute.

Wisconsin’s black male incarceration rate is the highest in the country and roughly double the national average, yet the state’s white male incarceration rate is 1.2%, about the national average.

Between 1990 and 2011, 26,222 African-American men from the county were incarcerated in state facilities; as of January 2012, more than 20,500 of them were released back into the community, while 5,631 were still in prison.

Roughly a third of the African-American men serving time since 1990 are nonviolent offenders.

Wisconsin’s nation-leading incarceration rate is especially problematic in central Milwaukee, where, in the 53206 Zip code, multiple ex-offenders live on nearly every residential block in the neighborhood. That leads to further family destabilization, poverty and, potentially, increased crime.

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin’s African-American incarceration rate spiked in the 1990s, when so-called tough-on-crime and truth-in-sentencing laws were passed, hitting those with drug convictions—including those convicted of nonviolent offenses—the hardest.

That has a huge effect on state resources. In early 2012, the UWM report found, Wisconsin was spending about a half-million dollars a day to incarcerate Milwaukee County’s black men. And the state’s corrections budget has ballooned to more than $1 billion annually.

Couldn’t that money be spent more productively?

Now comes the question of asking. What to do in this situation that has been going on for a long time? How to turn around a negative to a positive? In a sense of pondering.

Pawasarat and Quinn note that Wisconsin’s work-training programs largely ignore those with convictions, even though black men and ex-offenders are the most in need of vocational support in Wisconsin’s sluggish economy. Adding another barrier to an ex-offender’s job search is the lack of a valid driver’s license, often a requirement for employment.

State and local leaders and community groups have been calling for change in Wisconsin’s incarceration model.

Most notably, MICAH/WISDOM has launched the 11 x 15 Campaign for Justice, which seeks to cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half. Members testified at the state budget hearing in Greendale for increased funding for alternatives to incarceration, including more support for treatment programs instead of simply locking up those with drug offenses or mental illness who won’t be rehabilitated in prison.

Pawasarat and Quinn also call for more job training and driver’s education programs for Milwaukee’s African-American teens so that they will have a brighter future than the generation that has experienced mass incarceration.

Milwaukee will never become a world-class city if we ignore the realities of our most impoverished neighborhoods. Yes, violent criminals should have to pay for their crimes. But those with nonviolent convictions who truly want to turn their lives around should be given a fair chance to do so. State and local leaders must work to reduce the nation-leading mass incarceration rates of Milwaukee’s African-American men by supporting ex-offenders who are returning to the community as well as providing opportunities for Milwaukee’s African-American teens.

I have to say that partially, Wisconsin has been on “pins and needles” in regarding this issue. Yes, we can go to the mayors, governors or other stuff. Speaking of GOVERNORS , what is Scott Walker’s thing on this? Probably nothing. He might send surrogates like Reggie Newson or any other person to come to address it, but for him, not a chance. And I can’t imagine what the conservative media in Wisconsin would comment. They probably won’t address it and put it aside like it means nothing to them. It won’t. And those who black and republican and live in Wisconsin? I’ll save that for the birds if they decide to flock from the nest. Whether they like it or not, this  SHOULD BE part of that conversation that should be non-political. Same with the black democrats. Same with the black liberals, black coversatives, black independents, and many so on, so forth. If the talk continues to conversate in a fashion of not getting it done, then we won’t have nothing to solve for. Now when I highlighted the moniker: “Worst State for Black People” in regarding Wisconsin, that should in asking, Why is Wisconsin is labeled the worst state for black people in terms of prisons? And I’ll bet if you get 50 Wisconsinites, half will tell you the most, half won’t tell you. Now for those that will, won’t stop talking. And for those that won’t, are scared. That’s right I said it. Scared.

Was talking about Scott Walker’s Act 10 removal scary? Yes.

Was talking about the Republican Controlled Legislature in Wisconsin about dumping High Speed Rail like a bad habit scary? Yes.

Is talking about race in Wisconsin scary as well as in America? Absolutely.

Will the Black Prison commentary in Wisconsin continue to flourish and still be a hot button topic without ? Yes. Not just locally, but nationally.

So do I find this study very shockingly that those have expressed? Not one bit. Not one!


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