Madison, WI – The Jacob Blake case in Kenosha highlights the ongoing conflict with racial justice in Wisconsin and nationwide. It is a powerful reminder that Wisconsin needs broader criminal justice reform, and we call for the legal community, elected officials, and law enforcement to act now. This case was a tragedy for everyone involved, including Jacob Blake, his family, the Kenosha community, Kenosha law enforcement, and the nation. Our collective hearts go out to all people who have been affected by these events.
We must remind ourselves that when there is mistrust in the criminal justice system, the entire system is called into question. Mr. Blake’s case – and those of Dontre Hamilton of Milwaukee and Tony Robinson of Madison, to name a few – demands that we end systemic racism and implicit bias that is engrained in our legal system, law enforcement institutions, and countless other facets of American life.
The State Bar of Wisconsin, with more than 25,000 lawyers, must play a strong role in addressing systemic racism and implicit bias in the legal system, including issues relating to race, gender, sexual identity, and religion. We will continue to address disparities by advancing policy priorities related to expungement, bail reform, juvenile justice, civil legal aid funding, exoneree compensation, and adequate investment in the justice system.
Lawyers are an important part of the justice system, and as stewards of the rule of law, we must take collective action to help right wrongs.