Milwaukee Legislators Target Racial Inequality
'Disrupting Disparities’ proposals by African American lawmakers include criminal justice reforms.
A group of African American legislators from Milwaukee is proposing a package of legislation they say will help make Wisconsin a more equitable state.
The group of Democrats are calling the bills “Disrupting Disparities.” They unveiled the proposals at a press conference and roundtable discussion this month in Milwaukee.
Rep. David Crowley said the bills, which include several criminal justice reform measures, are a first step in addressing racial inequality in Wisconsin.
“We need to start a discussion about how we reform these systems,” said Crowley, who has also declared his candidacy for Milwaukee County Executive.
One bill in the package would limit the number of days a prisoner can spend in solitary confinement if he or she has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Crowley said excessive use of solitary confinement can exacerbate mental health issues. Another bill would put limits on the use of restraints among juvenile prisoners. Another would make $5 million in grant funding available to promote community policing in cities with high minority populations.
“There are so many creative ways to use these dollars to rebuild trust between police departments and our communities,” Crowley said.
Crowley, who worked with Reps. David Bowen and LaKeshia Myers and Sen. Lena Taylor on the measures, said he and his colleagues don’t expect all of these bills to make it to the floor of the Republican-controlled Legislature. He also acknowledged that some of the proposals are limited in scope in hopes of attracting bipartisan support.
“We always have to remember where we are in the Legislature as Democrats,” he said. “We are deep in the minority.”
But he hopes the push will attract bipartisan support and can start to move the issues forward.
“If we’re going to be effective legislators, we can’t just say because there’s this (political) makeup, we’re not going to push policies forward that are good for these communities.”
Listen to the WPR report here.
Legislators Take Aim At Racial Inequality With Proposed Bills was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.