The trend is pretty clear -- African-Americans are far, far more likely than whites or Hispanics to get charged with second offense possession of marijuana felonies in Milwaukee County.
Of the 50 cases filed in 2016 that we could find, 42 of the defendants were African-American, and 38 of the arrests occurred in the city of Milwaukee north of I-94. (These all were cases where the only charge filed was the marijuana charge).
The arrests occurred frequently after a traffic-related stop, such as when an officer noticed a car parked at a gas station, or approached a car that was parked too far from the curb, or stopped a car that had windows that were too dark or because the driver wasn't wearing a seat belt. Many of the original offenses were petty and similar stops resulting in arrest were not made on the city's south side or in the suburbs.
Black folks and white folks partake of pot at basically the same rate. Yet, it is unmistakably clear that African-Americans on the north side are bearing a grossly disproportionate share of the burden of this second offense felony law.
Below are the final stats for 2016 and a map depicting the locations of the arrest locations. The red line is I-94. Details related to the arrests are on The Pot Page.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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