Getting caught with drugs within city limits often lands an offender in jail, while a suburban bust can mean little more than a municipal ticket. African-Americans, concentrated in the state’s urban areas, are arrested for drug offenses at more than six times the rate of whites in Wisconsin, a commission convened by Gov. Jim Doyle argues in a new report quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Latinos are 4 percent of the state’s population, but 8 percent of the correctional population.
Said state Sen. Spencer Coggs, a commission co-chair. “We’re looking for first-time, non-violent offenders to, when warranted, have some diversion away from the criminal justice system.” The Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System issued nearly 60 recommendations that members say would ensure equal treatment under the law at all points in the justice system, from arrest to trial, incarceration and probation. The group said that the same drug treatment-oriented response to methamphetamine users, who are typically white, should be extended to crack-cocaine users, who are typically black.