Young blacks in Wisconsin were imprisoned at nearly 20 times the rate of young whites in 2002
Wisconsin has one of the highest rates of incarceration for minority juveniles in the nation, Gov. Jim Doyle said Monday, as he urged a commission to take a hard look at racial disparity in the state's criminal justice system.
A study released in January by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency reported that young blacks in Wisconsin were imprisoned at nearly 20 times the rate as young whites in 2002.
"We've got to look at it honestly and directly and come up with ... real, practical suggestions on things that can be done," Doyle told the 24 commission members that included co-chairmen state Sen. Spencer Coggs, D-Milwaukee, and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray.
Doyle signed an executive order last month that created the commission to determine whether discrimination is built into the state's criminal justice system and develop strategies to reduce racial disparities.
The commission met for the first time Monday at a downtown hotel. It is to submit its recommendations to Doyle by Oct. 1.
The January study looked at how many youths were imprisoned per 100,000 people ages 10 to 17.
Nationwide, black youths were incarcerated at nearly 9 times the average rate of white youths in 2002, according to the study. The rate for American Indians in Wisconsin was nearly 14 times that of whites, and Hispanics were six times more likely to spend time behind bars.
One way to solve this problem would be for minorities to commit less crime.