By James Causey of the Journal Sentinel April 18, 2013 12:41 p.m.
The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990, fueled by the nation’s “War On Drug” policies and the three-strikes rule.
Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate in the nation.
In Milwaukee County over half of African-American men in their 30s have served time in state prison, according to the report: “Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African-American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013.”
Incarceration is the most serious barrier to employment. When a person gets out of prison and applies for a job they are automatically placed in the “do not call” pile. If they can’t make a living what do you expect them to do? They usually end committing crimes that lands them right back in prison.
The report uses two decades of state Department of Corrections and Department of Transportation files to assess employment and training barriers facing black men with a history of DOC offenses and DOT violations.
One of the best ways to turn this negative trend around is to stop locking people up for non-violent offenses.
It costs too much. Most of offenders suffer from drug and alcohol addiction problems.An investment in more drug and alcohol treatment facilities would save Wisconsin taxpayers millions and help people get on the road to recovery faster. It cost more than $32,000 a year to house a prisoner in Wisconsin, but the most expense drug treatment cost less than $9,000.
What makes more sense?
According to the report, of the 26,222 black males incarcerated from 1990 to 2012 , 40% has sentences for drug offenses.
Wisconsin’s rate of mass incarceration of African-American men is 12.8% or nearly double the national average of 6.7%. The state of Oklahoma is a distant second at 9.7%.