No matter where you live or what you look like, everyone deserves a fair shake from our courts. That’s why it’s so important that our judges represent all of our communities.
Wisconsin’s state-level judiciary is one of the whitest in the whole country, according to the Gavel Gap Report. Ranked at 42 out of 51, for gender and race/ethnicity representativeness, Wisconsin needs to be better.
Our courts and legal system must be representative, staffed by judges who understand the communities they are serving.
“Oftentimes, it’s never someone who looks like me.”Jerome Dillard, EXPO executive director explained in a past LWVWI Fair Courts webinar
Not all courts are made up of judges who represent the communities they serve. However, that problem won’t be solved by allowing politicians to reject judicial decisions. Instead, states must take steps to ensure courts have qualified judges with a wide array of experiences that allow them to decide a case based on the facts—not the influence of special interests and lobbyists. We need justice, not politics, from our courts.
On top of that, Wisconsin has the most severe disparities in imprisonment rates between Black and white people. One of every 36 Black Wisconsinites is in prison, according to the Sentencing Project. Wisconsin is also one of seven states with a Black/white sentencing disparity larger than 9 to 1.
Several factors contribute to these startling numbers.
“It’s this tangled web of disparities.”UW-Madison Professor Pamela Oliver explained in a past LWVWI Fair Courts webinar