Wisconsin is second worst state in the nation for racial disparities in the criminal system
Wisconsin court commissioners and judges who set bail and sentence people need to be reminded how terrible Wisconsin numbers are. African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 5.1 times the imprisonment of whites. In five states (Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, and Wisconsin), the disparity is more than 10 to 1. Wisconsin has the second highest incarceration rates per 100,000 by race in the nation! http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/ . Racial disparities in incarceration can arise from a variety of circumstances. These might include a high rate of black incarceration, a low rate of white incarceration. In Wisconsin we have the second highest black/white differential for incarceration between blacks at whites at 11.5! The criminal justice system is held together by policies and practices, both formal and informal, which influence the degree to which an individual penetrates the system. At multiple points in the system, race may play a role. Disparities mount as individuals progress through the system, from the initial point of arrest to the final point of imprisonment. Court commissioners and judges should think twice when rejecting evidence based models when setting bail or sentencing because scholars have found that people of color are frequently given harsher sanctions because they are perceived as imposing a greater threat to public safety and are therefore deserving of greater social control and punishment. And survey data has found that, regardless of the race of the person in power, the person in power associated African Americans with terms such as “dangerous,” “aggressive,” “violent,” and “criminal.” Bridges, G. & Steen, S. (1998). Racial disparities in official assessments of juvenile offenders: Attributional stereotypes as mediating mechanisms. American Sociological Review 63(4): 554-570; Eberhardt, J.L., Goff, P.A., Purdie, V.J., & Davies, P.G. (2004). Seeing black: Race, crime, and visual processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(6): 876-893
1. RIGHT TO VOTE: A convicted felon does not possess the right to vote until such time that he or she has completed the sentence imposed for the felony conviction, so long as no other sentence (or sentences) is outstanding for other felony convictions, the right to vote has not otherwise been prohibited. The right to vote is automatically restored upon completion of the sentence. Wis. Stat § 304.078 (3).
2. RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS: A convicted felon is forever prohibited from carrying a firearm. Wis. Stat. § 941.29(1)(a)-(b), (2). It is a felony offense for a convicted felon to possess a firearm under Wisconsin state laws. (Note that Wisconsin law extends to “other weapons”). A convicted felon cannot hunt with a gun. A convicted felon also cannot group gun hunt because under Wisconsin hunting regulations every member of a group gun-hunting party must have both a valid hunting license AND a rifle in his (or her) possession. You may not possess a firearm if the offense of conviction is a crime of domestic violence. This prohibition applies even if you have not been convicted of a felony offense. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9).
3. JURY DUTY: A convicted felon cannot serve on a jury until such time that he or she has completed the sentence.
4. ELECTED OFFICE: In November 1996, the electors of the State of Wisconsin ratified a constitutional amendment which bars any person, who has been convicted of a felony for which they have not been pardoned, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor involving a violation of public trust for which they have not been pardoned, from holding a state or local office. Wis. Const. Article XIII, Section 3
5. HEALTH CARE: Certain restrictions are imposed if you are in the health field and bill Medicare.
6. EMPLOYMENT: The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (1977) expressly bars employers from discriminating in employment and licensing decisions on the basis of an individual’s criminal record. Wis. Stat. § 111.321. However, it is not unlawful to discriminate against those previously convicted of a crime if the circumstances of the particular criminal offense “substantially relate to the circumstances of the particular job or licensed activity,” or if the person is not bondable. § 111.335(1)(c). It is also not employment discrimination for an educational agency to refuse to employ, or to terminate the employment of, an individual who has been convicted of a felony, whether or not the circumstances of the crime relate to the job. § 111.335(d)(2). Licensing authorities are specifically prohibited from issuing licenses to convicted persons for certain professions if they have not been pardoned (e.g., security personnel and private investigators, installer of burglar alarms), or who have been convicted of certain offenses (including drug offenses). See § 111.335(cg), (cm), (cs), (cv), (cx).6.If you are an over-the-road truck driver, a conviction under certain felony offenses, including offenses of dishonesty or fraud, will disqualify you from hauling materials such as fuel oil and you will be barred from entering refineries under rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security.
Wisconsin law makes people convicted of a felony ineligible for more than 100 other professional licenses. See National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, www.abacollateralconsequences.org.
It is employment discrimination to ask an employee or applicant for employment for information about an arrest record, except when charges are pending, or when employment depends on bondability. § 111.335(1)(a). The provisions of the Fair Employment Act are explained at http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/er/discrimination_civil_rights/publication_erd_7609_p.htm
7. VETERAN’S BENEFITS: An inmate who is not receiving their benefits in prison can opt to have the payments sent to their spouse, children, or parents if they are dependents of the inmate. Whoever is to receive the benefit payments, must apply to get the money from the VA, because it will not be sent automatically. The only thing I am aware of is a veteran’s VA disability compensation payments will be REDUCED if you are convicted of a felony or misdemeanor and imprisoned for OVER 60 days (61+). Veterans rated 20 percent or more disabled are limited to the 10 percent disability rate during that time. If the vet's disability rating is 10 percent, the payment is reduced by one-half.
8.IMMIGRATION: A broad range of criminal convictions trigger immigration consequences. Moreover, the length and type of sentence may determine whether a respondent is subject to removal, eligible for relief from removal, or qualified to become a naturalized citizen. Specific criminal activity and the immigration consequences if convicted of such activity are varied. Four of these categories, many of which overlap, are discussed below:
Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude
Crimes involving moral turpitude are typically crimes that are considered inherently wrong by our society’s standards. Crimes in this category include (whether felony or misdemeanor): theft crimes, fraud crimes, crimes of violence, trafficking in a controlled substance, and aggravated DUI (such as DUI while driving with revoked license). Once convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, an alien may be unable to establish good moral character, required as a precondition for some forms of relief from removal. The statutory provision for good moral character bars aliens involved in most criminal activity from satisfying its terms. The "good moral character" language is generally interpreted as requiring a showing that the individual's conduct comports with that considered acceptable by prevailing community standards. Discretionary relief and other benefits affected by commission of a crime involving moral turpitude include voluntary departure, waiver, cancellation of removal, political asylum, registry, adjustment of status, and naturalization. An alien may be subject to mandatory detention with Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) for commission of crimes involving moral turpitude.
The definition if aggravated felony includes many offenses, even some crimes classified as misdemeanors by the State. Such offenses include murder, rape, sexual abuse of a minor, kidnapping, child pornography, alien smuggling; definition also includes crimes of bribery, crime of violence, theft, obstruction of justice, forging documents, and gambling offenses where term of imprisonment imposed is at least one year. Commission of a crime classified as an aggravated felony is NOT a ground of inadmissibility – so some forms of relief do exist. However, an alien convicted of an aggravated felony at any time is subject to removal (is deportable) from the US. Aggravated felony convictions subject the alien to mandatory custody with ICE.
Controlled Substance Offenses
Controlled substance offenses may be classified both as crimes involving moral turpitude or aggravated felonies; some controlled substance offenses are neither. The INA has created a separate category dealing with controlled substance offenses. A controlled substance offense is one in which the alien was convicted or admits having committed a violation relating to a substance named in the Controlled Substances Act. Controlled substances offenses create grounds for BOTH inadmissibility and removability (deportability). Moreover, it should be noted that an alien may suffer adverse immigration consequences on controlled substance grounds if the US government has “reason to believe” that the alien was involved in drug trafficking – no arrest or conviction required. Controlled substance convictions subject the alien to mandatory custody with ICE.
Firearms offenses, like controlled substance offences, have a separate classification under the INA. They too, however, may be classified as aggravated felonies. These crimes relate mostly to the offenses of unlawful use of explosive material and discharge, possessing, purchasing, etc of prohibited firearms in violation of federal law. A conviction of a firearms offense is not a ground of inadmissibility, but does create grounds for removal (deportation). Conviction of firearms offenses may subject the alien to mandatory custody with ICE.
Additional Civil Consequences of a Felony Conviction
At sentencing, a court may prohibit you from having contact with co-actors involved in the offense conduct during the period of probation.
You may find that a criminal conviction and even some non-criminal adjudications such as for drunk driving (first offense) will act as a bar to the entry of some foreign countries, such as Canada, Australia and Japan, for example.
You may not receive federal student financial aid (for a set period of time) if you are convicted of a drug offense; the length of time varies, depending upon the offense of conviction.
You may not obtain certain federal health, welfare and housing benefits if you are convicted of a drug offense.
You may not operate a motor vehicle for at least six months if you are convicted of a drug offense.
You may not operate a motor vehicle for at least six months if you are convicted of drunk driving. Second or subsequent convictions for drunk driving will result in a longer period during which you may not operate a motor vehicle. In some cases an ignition interlock device may have to be installed before you may operate a motor vehicle again. You may be required to provide a DNA sample which will then be posted to a database maintained by the state crime laboratory. There is a $250 fee for this analysis. Certain misdemeanor offenses also qualify for this requirement.
WHAT IS YOUR FEE FOR MY CASE?
I don’t recall ever meeting anyone who actually enjoys writing a check to an attorney. Heaven would be a world where the need for lawyers didn’t even exist – a world where only guilty people were charged with crimes and everyone could be trusted to uphold their word. But we aren’t in heaven – not yet anyway – and we certainly aren’t living in a perfect world, so the cold hard truth is that when push comes to shove, you better be hoping to heaven you have a great lawyer there to have your back. Paul A. Ksicinski will have your back in your case!
Initially, I want to tell you something that may sound strange. When I go to court, I try to laugh with the opposing attorney. Many people think that a good lawyer must be the scariest lawyer – the one who would never back down and who would fight like a gladiator on your behalf. WRONG! I cannot express enough how wrong that thinking is. A fight to the death, take no prisoners lawyer, is one who will alienate everyone around you that you ever try to do a deal with (including possibly a jury); they will drain your pocket book by dragging the fights out to the bitter end; and they will convince you that settling is not an option because you are right and you shouldn’t give in. In the end, a lawyer like that wins for one person and one person only, themselves. I will fight hard for you but more importantly I will fight smart.
Most people never have to face criminal charges. Despite the "presumption of innocence" that has been enshrined and codified in the American law, it's entirely possible for innocent individuals to be swept up in criminal proceedings. As such, it's important that criminal defendants retain an attorney who seems competent and trustworthy from the outset. In many cases, this can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal.
High-quality criminal defense attorneys who boast solid track records tend to charge lots of money for their services. Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you think a fee is high for an experienced attorney with 28 years doing nothing but criminal cases, try the cost of an inexperienced attorney: your life. A good defense attorney who can secure an acquittal for $5,000 or even $10,000 might turn out to be a good investment in your freedom.
Just remember this: nothing will be more expensive to you than hiring a cheap lawyer, and nothing will be more painful than hiring the wrong lawyer. Hire the right lawyer. Hire Paul A. Ksicinski
I have always thought curious people who want the death penalty but oppose abortion. In the words of George Carlin:
These conservatives are really something, aren't they? They are all in favor of the unborn, they will do anything for the unborn, but once you're born, you're on your own! Pro-life conservatives are obsessed with the fetus from conception to nine months. After that they don't want to know about you, they don't want to hear from you . . . no neo-natal care, no day care, no head start, no school lunch, no food stamps, no welfare, no nothing! If you're pre-born, you're fine. If you're pre-school, you're fucked. Conservatives don't give a shit about you until you reach military age. Then they think you are just fine, just what they've been looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life... these people aren't pro-life, they're killing doctors! What kind of pro-life is that? They'll do anything they can to save a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it? They're not pro-life.
Similarly, many people oppose corporal punishment for children. They say you should not hit a child for discipline because that just teaches them to hit. Yet, these same people have no objection with the few police officers who whack someone on the street. Or in jail. Or in prison. Guess that is a different lesson than corporal punishment.
And it seems odd to me that individuals can buy assault weapons without showing identification in more than 30 states, while states like Wisconsin prohibit allowing individuals to vote without some form of identification. In recent years, 13 states have passed stricter voter ID requirements and half a dozen more are considering voter suppression measures in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling invalidating a key section of the Voting Rights Act. I guess using your fingers to grab a pen and vote is more violent than using your fingers to grab the trigger of a gun.
These inconsistent views on violence might explain the schizophrenic view of violence in the criminal system. I have always found interesting philosopher Newton Garver’s observation that those who deplore violence loudest and most publicly are usually pillars of the status quo who rarely see violence in defense of the status quo in the same light as violence directed against it. Politicians manipulate public perception of the criminal system by catching voter’s ears by saying they are “the law and order” candidate or that they will get “tough on crime.” All the while, many of those in power break the law. This was given expression years ago by Richard Nixon claimed it was acceptable for the president to break the law because “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.” Nixon’s thought process lives on today. Condoleezza Rice justified waterboarding and torture by saying, “The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture.” Does anyone remember why we say we should not spank our children?
Clearly, concern with violence is what should drive the criminal system. DAVID GARLAND, THE CULTURE OF CONTROL: CRIME AND SOCIAL ORDER IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY 12 (2001) (“Today, there is a new and urgent emphasis upon the need for security, the containment of danger, the identification and management of any kind of risk. Protecting the public has become the dominant theme of penal policy.”) John Gardner, Rationality and the Rule of Law in Offences Against the Person, 53 CAMBRIDGE L.J. 502, 504–06 (distinguishing crimes of violence from the broader category of crimes against the person, and emphasizing that violence requires the intentional infliction of injury).. Violence is the primary concern of people because it is the ultimate reality. Perhaps that is as it should be since, as Kafka once said, enlightenment comes to the most dull-witted man not with his eyes but with his wounds. Franz Kafka, In the Penal Colony, in THE COMPLETE STORIES 150 (Nahum Glazer ed., 1971). Indeed, some have recommended the system should focus not crime but on violence. FRANKLIN E. ZIMRING & GORDON HAWKINS, CRIME IS NOT THE PROBLEM: LETHAL VIOLENCE IN AMERICA xii (1997) (“We hope to change the subject, in both scholarly and policy analysis in the United States, from crime control to the control of lethal violence.”).
If the focus of the system becomes violence not simply crime, errors in the system immediately jump out. Of the offenders serving sentences in federal prisons, only about 7% of federal inmates are incarcerated for “violent” offenses like homicide, aggravated assault, and kidnapping and robbery with majority incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. Out of the 1.35 million people in state prisons, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that only 718,000 people were serving time for a violent offense. Is it any wonder that the wallets of taxpayers are nearly empty by a criminal system which so indiscriminately incarcerates?
Still, to bring the United States to a prison incarceration rate equal to that of European nations — or to our own rate in the early 1970s — we would have to slash our incarceration rate from 623 per every 100,000 adults to about 150 per 100,000. That would be a reduction of approximately 80 percent. To start towards that goal, we need to shorten sentence lengths; make it easier for prisoners to win extended supervision/parole; deciding that probation or community service are more appropriate consequences than prison time for entire classes of crimes; diverting more suspects to mental illness programs or addiction treatment; and even redefining what offenses are considered violent in the first place.
ARCHIE BUNKER, MICHAEL STIVIC, AND DONALD TRUMP: IS HAVING BLACK POLICE OFFICERS THE ANSWER TO STOP POLICE SHOOTINGS?
A television show began in 1971 that changed America. The show was entitled All In The Family. The show, featuring Carroll O'Connor as the bigoted Archie Bunker. Archie believed himself to be a hard worker, loving father, and basically decent man but hated blacks, "Commies", gays, and Polish-Americans. He frequently told his long-suffering wife Edith to "stifle yourself" and "dummy up".
Archie Bunker was even alive and well in 2008. In that year, it was publicly asked whether candidate Obama had "an Archie Bunker problem" with the 2008 electorate - losing badly in white urban neighborhoods. And today, newspaper columnists say that Archie is alive and well, voting for Trump. All In The Family is such a cornerstone of American culture that today you can visit Archie and Edith Bunker's chairs at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. As the museum's website puts it, "Their battlegrounds were the very issues dividing American society—ethnic prejudice, women's liberation, and racism. The show's humor revealed the limits of Archie's bigotry, as well as the self-righteousness of his children."
I frequently watched the show with my own dad. Despite Archie’s blatant prejudice to his Polish live-in son-in-law Michael Stivic, who Archie often referred to as “meathead” and “Polock,” Archie was my dad's hero. I always marveled at this point. Here was my father, a devoutly Polish American, cheering on Archie who hated “Polocks.” How could someone of a race cheer a person who hated their race? I call it the “All in the Family” paradox.
I always wondered how this could be so. It took me years to understand why. As usual, the concept is found in our evolutionary origins. Black, White. Male, Female. Categories. Our brain makes folders and tucks information about categories into each folder for future reference. This is not a conscious decision but is done automatically, and it helps us function. The evolutionary purpose is simply this: all mushrooms have as an essential property being poisonous so do not eat a mushroom, all bears have as an essential property being big and want to eat you so stay away from bears. A simple effective way of staying alive is to categorize things by their essential attributes (you do remember in college the philosophy teacher talking about Platonic idealism and the essential form being permanent, unalterable, and eternal, right?) in our lives. As “essence” may imply permanence, essentialist thinking tends towards political conservatism and therefore opposes social change. Forget that the heavenly taste of a portabella mushroom and that there are occasionally nonhungry bears—your categorization system keeps you safe.
I have previously written about implicit bias or how thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control can cause us to believe and act like when a lawyer selects jury or admitting certain types of evidence. Can these unconscious thoughts and feelings have implications? The trouble comes when the brain uses similar processes about mushrooms and bears to form negative views about groups of people. The process of categorizing the world obviously includes identifying the group or groups to which you belong. And that's where the next psychological factor underpinning prejudice emerges. Much research has found that humans are tribal creatures, showing strong bias against those we perceive as different from us and favoritism toward those we perceive as similar.
Mix that information with news that six of the Baltimore cops charged with killing Freddie Gray include three black officers. Even more glaring, how about the New Orleans Police Department, which is “one of the most racially balanced police forces in the nation.” In 2011, the U.S. Justice Department found that the NOPD’s patterns of misconduct, which included excessive force and illegal stops, searches and seizures, showed racial and ethnic — as well as LGBT — bias. The “All in the Family” paradox arises. It demonstrates that having even the most diverse workforce won’t remove the need to do two critical things – address the prevalence of hidden, unconscious bias against black people and examine the racial impact of all of a department’s policies and practices, regardless of who is carrying out them out.
The actual implementation of police procedures is an arena ripe for these unconscious biases to emerge with terrible consequences. That phenomenon is called implicit bias, and it exists in all of us. I’ve observed a wrong use of implicit bias out in the world – often people think it means that we all have biases against each other, and these biases are evenly distributed. But they are not. We all do have biases, about ourselves and others, but those in this society overwhelmingly favor white people even if you are black.
In fact, according some studies, black citizens feel black officers are harsher on them than white officers. In the Journal of Criminal Justice, it was reported that newfound power that comes with being a police officer might affect Black more than White officers, given the novelty of this power, typically denied Blacks in the wider society: “They seem to look down on their people. They kick them around,” said a seventy-one year old Merrifield woman. “They’re inferior themselves, so that’s why they look down on people.” A Merrifield man elaborated:
It’s amazing but White officers are far more courteous to Black people than Black officers are. . . . You know, you’ve got a gun and you’ve got a badge. You’re the baddest thing out there. And whatever you say goes. That’s the Black man. That’s the man in charge. The White officer, when he come to you [he says], “I’m sorry sir, but you ran that red light,” or “Sir, you’re doing this, that, and the other thing.” But the Black officer, he’s in charge, you see. It’s because of the oppression that he comes up under. Well, I understand that. . . . Not all of them are like that, but I would say maybe 80 percent of the Black ones. The White guys, I wouldn’t say that. . . . [Black officers] have the power, and when you take a person and give them a pistol and a badge, he gonna talk to you any kind of way, be arrogant. I think that’s the main thing, the arrogance that Black officers have about being in authority.
Moreover, a second factor that is conducive to “hard-line” behavior is officers’ need to demonstrate to White citizens or White colleagues that they are “blue” not Black. Id. Thus, “[w]ith respect to the behavior of White and Black officers, many respondents subscribed to the “blue cops” principle that occupation outweighs racial identity.”
As reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, using a simple videogame, the effect of ethnicity on shoot/don’t shoot decisions was examined. African American or White targets, holding guns or other objects, appeared in complex backgrounds. Participants were told to “shoot” armed targets and to “not shoot” unarmed target. Participants fired faster at armed targets if they were black, and more quickly decided not to shoot unarmed targets if they were white. White and black officers had similar responses, so there wasn’t much difference in decision making based on the identity of the cop.
Implicit bias can affect anyone black, white or any other color we may dream up. It is especially a problem for police. From recruitment to hiring to training, solutions to implicit bias are emerging all the time, and we need to realize how it affects us. And
COURTS CANNOT CONSTITUTIONALLY CONDONE POLICE STOPS BASED ON "PARKING WHILE BLACK"
Respectfully, I assert any court that truly believes in the 4th amendment, in privacy, in equality cannot and will not accept United States v. Johnson, decided in May, where the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2–1 to uphold a police search of a group of black people who were just sitting in a parked car. Fortunately, the entire circuit is going to rehear the case, which could decide whether the insidious practice of racial profiling of motorists on the highway will extend to racial profiling of motorists in parked cars. Should the full 7th Circuit—or eventually the Supreme Court—choose to uphold the current ruling, a police officer would have the constitutional authority to approach any motorist sitting in a parked car who may be violating a parking ordinance such as standing in a loading zone, near a fire hydrant, or within a few feet of an alley or private driveway; order all of the occupants out of the car; and then search the occupants and the car.
How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System
A 2016 study published in Criminology looks at another possible factor contributing to higher percentages of black and Hispanic individuals going to prison. Two Harvard University researchers interviewed 59 state judges in one Northeastern state to understand how their decision-making processes may cause or support racial disparities in the criminal justice system. For the study, titled “How Judges Think About Racial Disparities: Situational Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System,” the authors sought to better understand what judges think of these disparities and what, if anything, they do to address them at key points within the judicial process. The authors supplemented in-depth interviews with the judges with interviews of state prosecutors and defenders and by observing arraignments, pretrial motions, plea hearings, jury selections, jury trials, bench trials and parole hearings. Forty-two of the 59 judges who were interviewed were white and 10 were black.
Their key findings include:
Discussion of current legal issues
Henry Nellum case selected by USA Network as a compelling homicide trial to keep an eye on in 2018