ETI Publications

Document Type

Technical Paper

Publication Date



This report provides data on African American male incarceration for the state onf Wisconsin at the request of the NAACP Wisconsin Conference of Branches. For most ex-offenders, prison records remain public and impediments to employment for the rest of their lives. Consequently, unlike studies reporting point-in-time levels of incarceration or average daily inmate populations, this report identified the total populations of African American men who had been incarcerated in adult state correctional facilities from 1990 to 2012 using Wisconsin Department of Corrections public inmate records. State DOC records showed incarceration rates for African American men at epidemic levels throughout Wisconsin. In 2012 half of all African American men in their 30s had served time in prison or were currently incarcerated. While African Americans made up only 7% of working age Wisconsin men in their thirties they made up 43% of men in their thirties who had been imprisoned. For men in their twenties the situation is even worse. African Americans made up 7% of Wisconsin men in their twenties but 46% of the men in their twenties who have been imprisoned. The Wisconsin voting-age population (i.e., those age 18 and above) is 86% white non-Hispanic, thus placing decisions about increasingly minority prison populations in the hands of a substantial white majority. Among the legislative concerns raised by religious and community leaders are prison conditions, lack of opportunities for education and training (for ex-offenders and for non-offenders), state sentencing laws, lack of treatment alternatives to incarceration, parole practices, limitations on expungement of prison and court records, restrictive driver’s license policies, and post-release employment discrimination.