Project Milwaukee: Black Men in Prison

WUWM & MPTV Special Series
Why are so many Wisconsinites behind bars?
And, what are the costs?

In the 2010 Census, Wisconsin had the highest percentage of incarcerated black men in the nation. One out of every eight black men of working age is behind bars. In Milwaukee County, more than half of African American men in their thirties have served time in prison.

Over the course of six months, WUWM and MPTV explored Wisconsin's high rate of black male incarceration, through expert analysis and personal stories.

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Center for Driver's License Recovery and Employability

One issue that’s come up repeatedly in our Project Milwaukee interviews on the imprisonment of African American males is driving privileges.

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Many of Milwaukee's poorest residents are dealing with a double-whammy when it comes to access to employment: poverty and suspended driving privileges.

Wisconsin incarcerates black men at staggering rates. WUWM's Susan Bence talks with eight men living the statistics. They are currently serving time at the Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin.

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Analysts and advocates say a wide variety of social and cultural factors contribute to the high rate of African American male incarceration in Wisconsin.

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A study released in spring shows the number of black men imprisoned in Wisconsin began to climb around 1990 and peaked in 2007.

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Though Wisconsin has the unfortunate distinction of having the country's highest rate of black male incarceration, it does fall in line with national trends.

Scores of adults reach out every day to help young people in some of Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods.

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Larry Jackson's first run-in with the law was a stint in a juvenile facility at nine-years-old.  Since then, the Milwaukee man's been in and out of prison, spending about 20 years total behind bars.

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The news that Wisconsin has the highest rate in the country of incarceration among African-American men continues to reverberate and many are asking why.

In 2010, one in eight working-age black men in Wisconsin was in prison. WUWM News meets one of them.

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