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Study shows disparity in prison sentences for black men

Wisconsin residents may be surprised to learn that according to a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, black men on average spend more time in prison than white men who commit the same crimes. The study looked at data from 2012 to 2016 and showed that black men served sentences that were 19.1 percent longer than white men who committed the same crimes.

Some may argue that the black men who got longer sentences may have had a history of violence or a history of crime. However, this pattern of thought does not hold water according to the study produced by the US federal judiciary branch. When an offender's history of violence was factored in, black offenders had sentences 20.4 times longer than white men.

In 2005, the Supreme Court heard the case United States vs. Booker. This case allowed judges to alter the sentences they handed out based on the "facts" they heard coupled with their good judgment. Before that, judges were limited in how they sentenced an offender by the guidelines from the sentencing commission.

The United States leads the world with more than 2.2 million people incarcerated. This represents a staggering 500 percent increase in incarceration over the last four decades. This incarceration has disproportionately affected black men, who are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men. One in 10 black men over age 30 is in prison or jail.

Not everyone incarcerated for a crime is guilty. This underscores the importance of consulting a criminal defense attorney whether a person is guilty of the crime or not. A criminal defense attorney can help the accused at various stages of their interaction with the criminal justice system. They may be able to assist with the investigation, help an individual who has been released from prison regain their rights, and help wrongfully arrested or incarcerated individuals clear their name.

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