African-Americans and Hispanics convicted of drug trafficking in Wisconsin are more likely to wind up in prison than are white drug dealers, says a state sentencing commission study reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Compared with whites, Hispanics are 2 1/2 times as likely to be imprisoned, while blacks are nearly twice as likely to end up behind bars for dealing drugs. The amount of racial disparity found in sentences increased as the offense severity decreased. Less severe crimes like drug trafficking, robbery, burglary, and third-degree sexual assault, showed greater levels of racial disparity than more severe offenses such as armed robbery.
State Sen. Lena Taylor, a panel member, said, “These disparities exist. I think the commission should have come out and said that  more forcefully. Another member, state Sen. Mary Lazich, said, “At best, what the study found is that there could be a further look at disparity. Clearly, you can’t arrive at a conclusion.” Gov. Jim Doyle expects the report to be addressed by a new Commission on Reducing Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System.