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Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice in Wisconsin. Pamela Oliver. Plan for the Talk. National overview Wisconsin patterns in imprisonment (with mention of overall incarceration) Age Patterns of imprisonment in Wisconsin County comparisons in imprisonment

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Presentation Transcript
plan for the talk
Plan for the Talk
  • National overview
  • Wisconsin patterns in imprisonment (with mention of overall incarceration)
  • Age Patterns of imprisonment in Wisconsin
  • County comparisons in imprisonment
  • County comparisons in arrests: Short
  • Implications: making the problem worse
  • What is to be done
nationally the black population is being imprisoned at alarming rates
Nationally, The Black Population is Being Imprisoned at Alarming Rates
  • Upwards of 1/3 of the Black male population is under the supervision of the correctional system (prison, jail, parole, probation)
  • Estimated “lifetime expectancy” of spending some time in prison is 29% for young Black men.
  • About 12% of Black men in their 20s are in prison
  • 7% of Black children, 2.6% of Hispanic children, .8% of White children have a parent in prison (at one time) – lifetime expectancy much higher
about rates disparity ratios
About Rates & Disparity Ratios
  • Imprisonment and arrest rates are expressed as the rate per 100,000 of the appropriate population
  • Example: In 1999 Wisconsin new prison sentences
    • 1021 Whites imprisoned, White population of Wisconsin was 4,701,123: 1021 ÷ 4701123 = .000217. Multiply .00021 by 100,000 = 22, the imprisonment rate per 100,000 population.
    • 1,266 Blacks imprisoned, Black population of Wisconsin was 285,308. 1266 ÷ 285308 = .004437. Multiply by 100,000 = 444
  • Calculate Disparity Ratios by dividing rates: 444/22 = 20.4 the Black/White ratio in new prison sentence rates
the 1970 s policy shift
The 1970’s Policy Shift
  • Shift to determinate sentencing, higher penalties
  • LEAA, increased funding for police departments
  • Crime becomes a political issue
  • Drug war funding gives incentives to police to generate drug arrests & convictions
  • Post-civil rights post-riots competitive race relations, race-coded political rhetoric.?
imprisonment has increased while crime has declined
Imprisonment Has Increased While Crime Has Declined
  • Imprisonment rates are a function of responses to crime, not a function of crime itself
  • Property crimes declined steadily between 1970s and 2000
  • Violent crime declined modestly overall, with smaller ups and downs in the period
crime trends
Crime Trends

Source: Crunching Numbers: Crime and Incarceration at the End of the Millennium by Jan M. Chaiken

Based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data from National Crime Victimization Survey. Figures adjusted for changed methodology, shaded area marks change.

the drug war
The Drug War
  • Most of the increase in imprisonment is due to drug offenses.
  • Drug use rates have generally declined since the 1980s, while drug imprisonments have increased.
  • Black adult drug use rates are only slightly higher than White (see next chart), while their imprisonment rates for drugs are enormous
  • Among juveniles, Blacks use illegal drugs less than Whites, but Black juveniles have much higher drug arrest rates.
current illicit drug use among adults national patterns
Current Illicit Drug Use Among Adults (National Patterns)
  • 6.6 percent for Whites
  • 6.8 percent for Hispanics
  • 7.7 percent for Blacks
  • 10.6 percent for American Indian/Alaska Natives (this is largely marijuana, rates for other drugs are lower than other races)
  • 11.2 percent for persons reporting multiple race
  • 3.2 percent for Asians
  • Source: 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
wisconsin s high black incarceration rate

Wisconsin’s High Black Incarceration Rate

Headlines in 2002

“Wisconsin #1 in Black incarceration in 2001”

contributors to incarceration rates
Contributors to Incarceration Rates
  • Prisons (state-level & federal facilities)
    • New sentences for new offenses
    • Length of sentence for each offense
    • Probation & parole revocations
  • Jails (local county-level facilities)
    • Short-term sentences for convictions (number & length per sentence
    • Held awaiting trial
    • Held awaiting probation/parole revocation hearing
  • Growing use of prisons/jails for disruptive mentally ill
disparities higher for prison than jail
Disparities Higher For Prison than Jail
  • BJS said Wisconsin’s overall Black/White incarceration disparity is 10 to 1.
  • Prison disparity is closer to 20 to 1
  • This means there is less disparity in jail than prisons
  • Most of Wisconsin’s counties are overwhelmingly White, presumably have overwhelmingly Whites in their jails
  • Prisons in Wisconsin are now majority Black despite Blacks being only 5% of general population
wisconsin prison admissions

Wisconsin Prison Admissions

Including Detailed Time Trends 1990-1999

wisconsin prison admissions by race
Wisconsin Prison Admissions by Race

Black

AmerInd

Hispanic

White

Asian

total admits offense blacks
Total Admits, Offense Blacks

Drugs

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Other

Theft

total admits hispanics
Total Admits, Hispanics

Drugs

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Theft

Other

white admissions status
White Admissions Status

Violation Only

New Sentence Only

Violation + New

blacks admission status
Blacks Admission Status

Violation Only

New Sentence Only

Violation + New

total admits violations only
Total admits, violations only

Black

AmerInd

Hispanic

White

Asian

whites violators
Whites, Violators

Violent

Theft

Robbery & Burglary

Other

Drugs

black violators
Black violators

Drugs

Violent

Theft

Robbery & Burglary

Other

new sentences whites
New Sentences, Whites

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Other

Theft

Drugs

new sentences blacks offense
New Sentences, Blacks Offense

Drugs

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Theft

Other

conclusions about wisconsin prison admissions
Conclusions About Wisconsin Prison Admissions
  • Huge racial disparities, especially Black vs. White
  • Probation/parole violators returning to prison are a major source of the rise
  • Blacks show steep rises in new sentences for drugs, while Whites show no increase
  • White new sentences are primarily for violent offenses.
  • Black new sentences are primarily for drug offenses.
slide45
Males in prison per 100,000 population in April 2000, Wisconsin Counties with More than 1000 Non-Prisoner Blacks

# counties with < 1000 American Indians

Graphic calculated using 1999 population estimates

slide46
Females in Prison per 100,000 population in April, 2000,Wisconsin Counties with More than 1000 Non-Prisoner Blacks

# counties with < 1000 American Indians

Graphic calculated using 1999 population estimates

county drug disparities by time
County Drug Disparities by Time

Dane

Waukesha

WI Bal.

Rock

Kenosha

Racine

Milwaukee

milwaukee new totals
Milwaukee New Totals

Black

Hispanic

White

AmerInd

Asian

milwaukee new black
Milwaukee New Black

Drugs

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Theft

Other

milwaukee new white
Milwaukee New White

Violent

Other

Drugs

Robbery & Burglary

Theft

dane new totals all races
Dane New Totals All Races

Black

AmerInd

Hispanic

White

Asian

dane new black
Dane New Black

Drugs

Violent

Theft

Robbery & Burglary

Other

dane new white
Dane New White

Violent

Robbery & Burglary

Theft

Other

Drugs

kenosha new totals
Kenosha new totals

Black

AmerInd

Hispanic

white

Asian

wi balance total
WI balance total

Black

Asian

AmerInd

Hispanic

white

dane vs milwaukee counties

Dane vs. Milwaukee Counties

A more detailed look at offense breakdowns

milwaukee county allocating disparities to arrest vs post arrest processing
Milwaukee County: Allocating Disparities to Arrest vs. Post-Arrest Processing

~72% of difference is due to arrest differentials

dane county allocating disparities to arrest vs post arrest processing
Dane County : Allocating Disparities to Arrest vs. Post-Arrest Processing

~ 37% of difference is due to arrest differentials

arrest rates in madison milwaukee 1998 1999

Arrest Rates in Madison & Milwaukee, 1998-1999

Source: Uniform Crime Reports Data obtained from Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance

conclusions
Conclusions
  • The drug war is being fought “against Blacks” and this problem is especially bad in Wisconsin
  • Probation/parole violation holds are a major source of arrests and a major source of jail crowding.
  • Large racial disparities in serious crimes indicate a real problem that needs to be addressed
  • Racial patterns of arrests for lesser offenses create “prior offenses” which affect sentencing
making things worse
Making Things Worse
  • High imprisonment rates (including longer sentences, high rates of probation/parole revocation) are not a constructive way of dealing with the problem of non-violent property crimes (thefts) and drug offenses
  • Enormous expenses to house these offenders in prison
  • Destruction of offenders’ lives and and serious harm to their families
  • Because of racial targeting of the drug war, the harmful consequences of this policy are being concentrated in Black communities, while the beneficiaries of the policy do not pay its price
effects of incarceration
Effects of Incarceration
  • Criminal Records + Racial Discrimination Hurt Employment Opportunities
  • Next few slides are from research by Devah Pager, new PhD from University of Wisconsin Sociology, Now on faculty at Northwestern
  • This was a controlled experiment in which matched pairs of applicants applied for entry-level jobs advertised in Milwaukee newspapers
figure 4 the effect of a criminal record on employment opportunities for whites
Figure 4. The Effect of a Criminal Record on Employment Opportunities for Whites
what is to be done
What is to be done?
  • This is not a sound bite issue.
  • Factors include a combination of bias, real differences in serious crime, social & political conditions
  • Patterns are arising from the core structures of our society
  • But there are steps we can take
oppose the drug war
Oppose the “drug war”
  • Treatment and public education are the most effective ways to reduce drug use
  • Drug enforcement just increases the profits of illegal drugs, makes the problem worse
  • Learn about the consequences of alcohol prohibition: drive-by shootings, organized crime
  • The largest racial disparities are for drug offenses
  • Association of violence with drugs is due to illegality & police enforcement
oppose tough on crime rhetoric
Oppose “tough on crime” rhetoric
  • Help depoliticize crime as an issue
  • Distinguish among different kinds of crimes
  • Take the crime problems of poor (& economically integrated) neighborhoods seriously without over-reacting and “middle class panic”
  • Call for rehabilitation & restoration for lesser offenses, not “lock ‘em up”
revisit probation parole
Revisit probation & parole
  • The vast majority of offenders are not murderers or rapists – they will get out
  • Insist the system focus on rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders, rather than looking for opportunities to incarcerate them
  • NOTE: Wisconsin has abolished parole, but has “extended supervision”
address root causes of crime
Address “root causes” of crime
  • Reduce poverty and deprivation through income transfers (e.g. earned income credit), training programs, living wages
  • Provide social support, education, constructive alternatives for juveniles who are not doing well in school
  • Need to break the inter-generational cycle caused by massive incarceration
address racial bias prejudice
Address racial bias & prejudice
  • Racial discrimination in employment & housing reduce constructive options
  • Conscious and unconscious biases, perceptions, assumptions affect policing & sentencing
  • White fear of crime more sensitive to presence of Blacks than to actual crime rates
  • Politicians play on Whites’ race-tinged crime fears in pushing “tough on crime” policies
racism and justice conclusions
Racism and Justice: Conclusions
  • We cannot move from an unjust to a just situation by ignoring race and pretending the disparities are not there
  • We cannot achieve racial justice by ignoring the real differences in serious crimes, economic & social conditions
  • We cannot achieve racial justice by treating this as “somebody else’s” problem
  • Politics caused the problem, and politicians need to be part of the solution