Wisconsin's governor talks about his plans to reduce the high incarceration rates among nonwhites in our state, which he says are "so far out of whack" with whites. In his new budget, Governor Jim Doyle will propose a commission to specifically look at the difference in incarceration rates, break down that information, and then provide practical suggestions to fix the problem. "You've got to look for and find any sense of discrimination in the system. Are sentences equal depending … for the same crime no matter what a person's race is? Are people being treated the same by police officers and by prosecutors and by courts?"
Young blacks were detained in Wisconsin at a rate 18.4 times more than whites, according to a report by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, a criminal justice research organization. Doyle says part of the solution has to do with getting minorities a good start in life. "The second part of it is also really recognizing that economic opportunity, good education, getting off to a good start in life, not being subject to abuse and neglect in early years of life, having a good educational foundation, having an economy that's producing jobs. Those are the greatest fighters we have against crime."
Doyle says there's too much good talent going to waste. "And this isn't just about being nice or being fare. This is about making sure that a lot of talented people — make sure their lives are going in the right direction where we can really use those talents rather than sitting in our prisons and jails."
The governor will ask the new commission to look into where there is actual discrimination built into the system and address the significant underlying causes of crime.