A new report from the Columbia University Justice Lab released Tuesday (January 22) reveals that the rates of probation and parole (referred to collectively as “community corrections”) are disproportionately higher for Black and Native Americans than their White counterparts. “The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story,” commissioned by criminal justice reform advocacy group JustLeadershipUSA, focuses on Wisconsin, where the number of people under parole supervision and the length of stay exceeds the national average.
Per the study, Wisconsin has the second-highest level of racial disparity in prison incarceration nationwide, with Black people imprisoned at 11.5 times the rate of their White counterparts. For many people of color there, encounters with the criminal justice system largely stem from traffic violations and the monetary fines that follow, which “can be the beginning of a snowball effect creating structural disadvantages that make adhering to the requirements of community corrections more difficult for people of color.”
From the study:
An astonishing one in eight Black men between the ages of 18 and 64 were under community corrections supervision at the end of 2017, over five times the rate for White men. Among Native American men of the same ages, one in 11 were under community corrections supervision in 2017, a rate four times that of White men. Black women in Wisconsin are supervised at over three times the rate of White women, and Native American women are supervised at over six times the rate of White women. Wisconsin’s disparities are substantially higher than national disparities in supervision rates.
[…] at the end of 2017, Black people made up 42 percent of all people incarcerated for revocations in Wisconsin (43 percent of whom were for technical violations) even though Black people made up only 25 percent of people supervised by the Division of Community Corrections statewide. Black people were incarcerated for technical violations of supervision at a rate more than two times greater than that for White people. Revocation rates were similarly high for Native Americans, who had their supervision revoked at a rate 1.7 times higher than the rate among White people under community corrections supervision.
The study goes on to offer recommendations to create a more just and equitable community corrections system in the state, such as closing down the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MWSDF), finding alternatives to revocation programs outside of MWSDF and reducing probation and parole terms.
Read the full report here.