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'Milwaukee 53206' and Mass Incarceration: 'This is Not a Unique Story. It's a Quiet Story.'

In an 8 month series, WUWM looked closely at the issues surrounding mass incarceration of African American men in Milwaukee. The problem affects the community at large, but probably nowhere more so than the people who live in one particular Milwaukee zip code.

"It was discovered that 53206 is the most incarcerated zip code in America, and so we said, 'Well let's start there. Let's go there and find the stories and tell this story about mass incarceration,'" says Keith McQuirter, the director and documentarian behind the film Milwaukee 53206: A Community Serves Time.

It's a powerful new documentary by a man with no previous connection to the city, and fittingly made its world premiere at Milwaukee's Oriental Theatre. The film follows the lives of families and community members, and documents their experiences in dealing with the daily affects of incarceration. McQuirter hopes the film will reach people who are unfamiliar with the issue of mass incarceration, and give them greater insight into the everyday struggles of those affected by it. 

"There's a lot of communities, a lot of people who aren't familiar with what incarceration is and why it's a problem in our country and the numbers that exist. So I hope this film awakens those people, and they get to see how American people are living with incarceration, you know, by the millions," he says. "This is not a unique story. It's a quiet story. But it's a story that needs to have attention brought to it."

This piece was originally published June 17, 2016. 

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.