PolitiFact: Does Milwaukee really have the highest incarceration rate for black Americans?

Posted at 7:27 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 20:31:38-04

It's been the subject in a documentary on Milwaukee and part of the debate after the weekend of unrest in Sherman Park. Does Milwaukee have the highest incarceration rate for African Americans in the nation?

Congresswoman Gwen Moore brought it up during an interview on MSNBC: "We have the highest incarceration rate among African-American men in the country, and it creates a powder keg."
"This claim is a pretty common one," said Greg Boroski at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It's a case where you have a study that says one thing about the state, people then take it and try to apply strictly to the city of Milwaukee."

Here's why: PolitiFact at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the major finding in the study is about Wisconsin, not Milwaukee, and it is dated.
The claim is from a UW-Milwaukee research project that showed nearly 13% of working-age African-American men were in state prisons or local jails as of 2010 -- the highest such rate in the country. Oklahoma ranked second.
PolitiFact found there's no city to city comparison to determine exactly where Milwaukee ranks. Moore's claim was rated Half True.

"It's really impossible to get in there and say with certainty that the African American incarceration rate in Milwaukee is higher than Chicago, Detroit or Louisville or and other place because no one city has looked at it and broke it down in that manner."