Comments of James H. Hall, Jr., President NAACP Milwaukee Branch
Supporting MICAH/WISDOM’S 11 x 15 Initiative
August 20, 2014
The case has been clearly made by Dr. Michelle Alexander and others, that excessive incarceration in the United States imposes a degree of social control unparalleled in world history. Sadly, Wisconsin’s level of incarceration (12.8% of African American working men or 1 in 8) leads the nation (nearly double the national average of 1 in 15). Last year, the BBC suggested that a zip code in Milwaukee may have the highest percent of incarceration in the world. In Milwaukee County, over half of African American men in their 30s and early 40s, have been or are currently, incarcerated.
Almost 150 years after the enactment of the 14th Amendment and 50 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Wisconsin lags behind the rest of the nation in many measures of equality. But none is more dreadful than the “off the chart” incarceration rate of African American men. This mass incarceration, as implemented in Wisconsin, has a crippling impact upon families (particularly children) and communities. The impact on the lives of the men themselves is devastating. Dr. Alexander has observed that the mass incarceration of black males more effectively precludes their participation in society and receiving its benefits, than the Jim Crow laws of the last century.
No one in Wisconsin should be proud that our state is the poster child with the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of incarceration of black men. The costs involved, both economic and social, are staggering. More than any other place in the nation, Wisconsin needs reform in this area. It will require a comprehensive approach
The NAACP Milwaukee Branch totally supports MICAH/WISDOM’S 11 x 15 Initiative, and particularly the policy reforms that are put forth today. We ask all people of good will to join us in this support. We must all work together to turn this around in Wisconsin.
James H. Hall, Jr., President
NAACP Milwaukee Branch