University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Employment and Training Institute


Washington Post article on Milwaukee driver's license suspensions
Continuing Criminalization of Poverty in Milwaukee

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report on driver's license suspensions
MJS: Hidden Cost of
Driver's License Suspensions

New Yorker article on Wisconsin mass incarceration
How to stop mass

Urban Milwaukee's
counter view

NPR examines how court-ordered license suspensions unfairly 
target the poor
NPR: Guilty and
(7 min.)

Milwaukee Shepherd Express
Strategies for change

BBC magazine story
BBC on Wisconsin's
high black male
incarceration (5 min.)

Beloit College blacklivesmatterbeloit
Institutional Racism
and the Black Body (2 hr.)

UW School of Medicine and Public Health Video Library
Learning from Milwaukee
and Ferguson (50 min.)

Michelle Alexander speaks to 1,800 at MATC
Media prison discussions

Black men in prison logo
WUWM special series

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news
Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel news

Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project Online Exhibit
WPA online exhibit

Current Research

A majority of those jailed for failure to pay municipal judgments are not employed at the time of booking. In a “catch-22” scenario, municipal courts often deny Wisconsin residents unable to pay or delinquent in paying court judgments for municipal citations their right to drive for two years -- jeopardizing workers’ employment options and placing them at risk in the criminal justice system if found “driving while suspended." Thousands of low-income Milwaukee teens of color failing to pay fines on municipal violations (even if unrelated to driving) are barred from getting their driver’s license for two years.

Mass Incarceration Studies

Wisconsin's rate of imprisoning African American men in state prisons and local jails is the highest in the U.S., according to 2010 Census data. Analysis of state public inmate files shows statewide mass incarceration, with half of African American men in their 30s having served time in prison. In Milwaukee County 40% of young men in their late 20s have already been incarcerated by the state.

The cumulative numbers of black male former inmates living in Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods remain a most serious, and largely unaddressed, concern for their lack of employment options and economic well-being. In Wisconsin ex-offenders' prison records (with very few exceptions) remain posted on the state court system’s website for the rest of their lives. Released prisoners are subject to Department of Corrections’ supervision which can result in their re-imprisonment at any time for minor and technical supervision infractions, and most live in neighborhoods with highly concentrated policing and concentrated poverty.

  • Slide shows (in PDF):
  • Beloit College panel discussion: #blacklivesmatterbeloit (2 hr.)
  • Quinn presentation to the UW School of Medicine and Public Health: "What Can We Learn from Milwaukee and Ferguson?" (50 min.)
  • Prison media coverage and videos | more ETI research on prison as a barrier to employment | incarceration readings

    Workforce Investment Reports

    ETI collaborates with the NAACP, Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, City of Milwaukee, and non-profits to identify job training opportunities and needs for men of color in the Milwaukee metro area. Federal EEO reports and state apprenticeship and occupational licensing records are used to monitor progress. ETI job openings surveys, conducted since 1993, assess the number and type of jobs available and the level of skill training employers need to fill openings in the Milwaukee region.

    Driver's License Employment Research

    ETI studies have shown the driver license to be essential for getting and keeping employment and exceeding high school completion as a predictor of sustained employment. Yet, the highest numbers of unlicensed drivers are African American men in their prime early working years with suspensions for debt collection issues rather than for unsafe driving. ETI is working with Wisconsin Community Services, Milwaukee Public Schools, the City of Milwaukee, and local funders to restore universal driver's education for Milwaukee teens.

    Analysis of Wisconsin driver's license records showed wide disparities in rates of licensing for African Americans and Latinos compared to Whites, particularly among young adults. The ETI research was cited by the federal court in its decision to stop DMV-issued photo ID requirements for voting in Wisconsin and also considered by the federal appeals court overturning the decision.

    Neighborhood Indicators

    The Milwaukee neighborhood indicators reports were developed by ETI with funding from the Helen Bader Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the City of Milwaukee to provide independent, timely and ongoing assessment tools to measure short-term and long-term progress toward improving economic and employment well-being of families in central city Milwaukee neighborhoods. ZIP code 53206 serves as a bellwether for poverty changes, mass incarceration, foreclosures, driver's license issues, and Boys and Men of Color organizing in Milwaukee and nationally

    Publications | Child care | Discrimination | Drilldown tools | Driver's license | Job openings surveys | Housing crisis | Housing integration | Neighborhood indicators | Prison issues | Reprints | School-to-work | Voter ID | Welfare research | Workforce training | WPA history

    Employment and Training Institute
    School of Continuing Education
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee