Racial Disparities and Police Brutality (The Facts)

Incarceration and other Racial Disparities in Dane County and Wisconsin

Racial Disparities in Dane County:

  • 25% Black unemployment rate, compared to 4.8% for whites
  • 74% of Black youth live in poverty, compared to 5.5% of white youth
  • Black students are 15 times more likely to be suspended from school than whites
  • Black youth face a 15 times greater risk of being put in foster care than whites
  • Black youth are 15 times more likely to spend time in county detention than whites
  • Black teens are 6 times more likely to be arrested than white teens
  • Black adults are arrested at a rate of 8 to 1 compared to white adults
    • 11 to 1 by Madison Police Department in 2013 according to updated statistics
  • Black men make up 4.8% of Dane County and 43% of the Dane County Jail

Source: Race to Equity: A Baseline Report on the State of Racial Disparities in Dane County. Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Madison, WI. 2013.

Racial Disparities in Imprisonment in Wisconsin:

  • More than 50% of Black men in their early 30s in Wisconsin have been in state prison
  • Nearly 13% of Wisconsin’s working-age Black men are in jail or prison, the highest incarceration rate in the United States
    • Nearly 8% of Wisconsin’s working-age Native American men are locked up
  • Wisconsin’s prison population is more than 40% Black; Blacks comprise 5% of Wisconsin’s voting-age population
    • ex-felons under correctional supervision, and those currently in prison or jail cannot vote   in Wisconsin
  • Only about 10% of Black men with incarceration records hold a valid Wisconsin driver’s license

Sources: Pawasarat, John and Lois M. Quinn. Statewide Imprisonment of Black Men in Wisconsin. Employment and Training Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2014.

Pawasarat, John and Lois M. Quinn. Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013. Employment and Training Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2013.


Police Homicides, Excessive Force and Non-Indictments

Justified Homicide:

The methodology the FBI uses to collect information on police “justified” homicides is lacking. Only 750 of 16,000 police precincts report.

In 2013, the FBI tallied 461 “justifiable homicides” committed by law enforcement. This is the highest number in two decades, even as the nation’s overall homicide rate continues to drop. The FBI records a homicide as "justifiable" when there is not a conviction of the law enforcement official. (http://www.gannett-cdn.com/experiments/usatoday/exp/police-shootings.svg)

Homicides committed by on-duty law enforcement made up 3 percent of the 14,196 homicides committed in the United States in 2013. (http://www.thenation.com/article/190937/why-its-impossible-indict-cop)

The Department of Justice has offered its own study that estimates approximately 900 justified police homicides a year. Here is an article that summarizes that study: http://www.vox.com/2015/3/5/8156689/police-shooting-deaths

Between 1991 and 2013, an average of 96 black people have been killed by white police officers each year. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/11/police-killings-hundreds/18818663/?siteID=je6NUbpObpQ-kjMP3xkzQ3NGDhFex0riUQ)

Excessive Force:

Plumhoff v. Rickard, 2014. In a 9-0 Supreme Court decision the justices decided that it was not "excessive force" when police shot 15 rounds in car after a high speed car chase, killing the car's driver and passenger. The court wrote, “that if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended.” (http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/plumhoff-v-rickard/)


Graham v. Connor, 1989. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that “the reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation.” It is because of this case that officers are rarely indicted when the kill civilians. They can claim they reasonably feared for their life and acted accordingly. (http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/crime/use-of-force-what-does-the-law-say/article_04a4ad69-7dd5-5099-a1e8-e764ab26c9b2.html)