Seventy percent of the possession of marijuana cases filed in Milwaukee Municipal Court last year were against African Americans, records show.
Blacks account for just 40 percent of the city's population, but were defendants in 601 of the 860 marijuana possession cases.
In addition, 139 cases were filed against Hispanics, 30 more than the 109 cases filed against whites, according to Municipal Court statistics. Hispanics account for just 17 percent of the city's population; whites make up 453 percent of the city's residents.
The Municipal Court caseload reflect activities of the Milwaukee Police Department.
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative previously reported that African Americans in Milwaukee County were far more likely to be charged with felony second offense possession of marijuana cases than are other races.
Simple possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana in the city can usually be charged as a municipal offense rather than as a state misdemeanor or felony. The municipal fine for possession is $50, though costs and fees will increase that to $124 for an adult and $94 for a juvenile. (Smoking marijuana in a public place is punishable by a fine of up to $250 plus fees and costs.)
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative advocates for progressive change in the Wisconsin justice system by educating the public about its real-life impacts and partnering with other organizations to achieve more just outcomes.