A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum has found that Wisconsin has one of the largest corrections budgets in the nation, and that Black Wisconsinites are imprisoned at close to 12 times the rate of white Wisconsinites.
These findings are deeply troubling, and they raise serious questions about the state’s priorities and criminal justice system.
At Jasti & Khandhar, we are committed to fighting for the rights of our clients, and we believe that everyone deserves to be treated fairly under the law. We are urging the state to take action to reform the criminal justice system and address the racial disparities that have been identified in this report.
Here are some of the things that the state can do to reduce reliance on incarceration and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system:
- Invest in alternatives to incarceration. There are many effective alternatives to incarceration, such as drug treatment, mental health services, and diversion programs. Investing in these alternatives would free up resources and allow the state to focus on incarcerating only those who pose a serious threat to public safety.
- Decriminalize nonviolent offenses. Many nonviolent offenses, such as drug possession and prostitution, are currently criminalized in Wisconsin. This leads to unnecessary arrests and convictions, particularly of people of color. Decriminalizing these offenses would reduce the number of people in the criminal justice system and help to address racial disparities.
- Reform sentencing laws. Wisconsin’s sentencing laws are among the harshest in the country. This leads to long sentences for even minor offenses, particularly for people of color. Reforming sentencing laws would reduce the number of people in prison and save the state money.
We encourage everyone to contact their elected officials and urge them to support reforms to the criminal justice system. Together, we can make a difference.