Of particular interest to me, and perhaps interesting to others given Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's apparent interest in becoming President of the USA, was the shows mention that Wisconsin has the highest rate of incarceration of African-Americans per capita of any state in the Country. At first, I could not believe this was true. However, this paper put out by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Workforce and Training Institute, cites U.S. Census Bureau statistics that support the claim.
The paper deals with the incarceration rate per capita of African-American males (I couldn't find similar statistics that deal with African-American females). In 2010, 12.8% of Wisconsin's African-American men of working age were incarcerated in state prisons or local jails. The national average was 6.7%. Wisconsin's rate is 1.9 times higher than the national average. By way of comparison, Wisconsin's rate of incarceration for white males is slightly lower than the national average (1.2% in Wisconsin versus a national average of 1.3%).
Not only is Wisconsin's rate of incarceration of African-American males much higher than the national average, it is much higher than the next highest state. Oklahoma has 9.7% of its working age African American males. So Wisconsin's rate is 1.3 times higher than the Oklahoma (or, if you prefer, Oklahoma's incarceration rate is only 76% of Wisconsin's).
I'm so astonished by these statistics that I do not know what to make of them. The difference between Wisconsin and the national average is big enough that there has to be an explanation. What do you think Mr. Torvik, is racism the reason for this large gap? If it were, one might expect that the states in the former Confederacy would have high rates of incarceration. But note that of the top ten (bottom ten?) rates of incarceration, there are only three states in the South, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. Finally, note that Wisconsin more than double the national average when it comes to its percent of Native American males that are incarcerated (7.6% in Wisconsin versus 3.1% nationally).
I suppose that with any ranking of states, some state is going to end up being at the top (or bottom). But it is hard to see how leading the Country in this particular category is something that Wisconsinites should feel proud of.