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‘Milwaukee 53206’ showcases the impact of living in one of the country’s roughest neighborhoods

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MILWAUKEE -- A shocking statistic about Milwaukee serves as the basis for a new documentary. The film, "Milwaukee 53206" explores the impact living in the zip code with the highest incarceration rate for African-American men in the country. The documentary premiered Tuesday, June 14th at the Oriental Theatre.

Oriental Theatre

Oriental Theatre

The group, "Milwaukee Film" sponsored the premiere. Organizers say the film is generating more buzz and interest than any other film they've been involved with. Tuesday night's screening was sold out.

It's surreal looking up and seeing yourself on the big screen.

"The kind of project like this, it requires truth," said Chad Wilson, featured in documentary.Chad Wilson

For Chad Wilson, opening up and talking about his struggles spending nearly a decade behind bars become a necessity.

"I have a jail background. I have a school background too. I have a background where I made bad decisions," said Wilson.

Wilson is one of several African-American men from Milwaukee's north side, who are profiled for Director Keith McQuirter's documentary, "Milwaukee 53206."

Chad Wilson

Chad Wilson

"We wanted to do a story about incarceration. So why not do a story about the most incarcerated zip code in the country," said McQuirter.

McQuirter was led to Milwaukee by a shocking statistic: 62% of adult men living in this zip code have spent time in jail or in prison.

Milwaukee 53206

Milwaukee 53206

"The more people know about this, talk about this, the more we can find solutions," said McQuirter.

Director Keith McQuirter

Director Keith McQuirter

The film addresses the incarceration rate through the lives of family members left behind. Wilson's story offers another perspective: one of a recently released man looking to better his life.

"Change is possible. It happens everyday," said Wilson.

There's hope the documentary will inspire better role models and better choices among fathers and young men in the community.

It's a cautionary tale exploring a growing issue.

Milwaukee 53206

Milwaukee 53206

"The United States makes up 5% of the world's population, but they have 25% of the world's prisoners," said McQuirter.


  • Mayor McCheese

    So if they know that this is a bad neighborhood that needs help how come nothing is being done to improve it?
    I have 10 ideas to improve the city and none of them involve a trolley downtown.
    The first thing the city of Milwaukee should address is drugs and alcohol abuse. Why are some many people unhappy and abuse drugs?
    That brings up point two the violence associated with the drug and alcohol abuse.
    Then there is the wonderful and wasteful department of corrections. It cost money to lock, house, feed and babysit adults. Why aren’t they in school or an education program? Drug and alcohol program? Taught life skills? NOPE! They just sit there 24/7 with other like minded criminals. And what do you think happens when they get out? The same behavior as when they went in. There is NO “Corrections” at the House of Corrections.
    Remember when Marquette targeted their area with the “Campus circle” program to clean up their neighborhood? Why can’t this neighborhood get cleaned up? More police, community leaders, tear down the boarded up houses.
    We have cars, cabs and buses. Milwaukee does not need a trolley to circle downtown. If anything Milwaukee needs affordable cabs! How come all these felons and repeat carjackers are on the streets? What is being done about the gun violence and Milwaukee’s murder rate?

    • Chief Wiggum

      Ask not what your City can do for you, but what you can do for your City. Change must be offered to people who want it and are willing to work for it. I haven’t seen a majority willing and wanting stand up.

  • Metal Maniac

    Its all the abandoned buildings or vacant lots located in a metropolitan area. It attracts crime because there are not “nosey neighbors” etc. to call the cops. Milwaukee has horrible roads, why do we throw people in Jail for so long just sitting on their arse. Lets have them repair these roads and learn construction.

    Side note Chief Flynn sucks but I’m okay with that because I drive my car like I stole it so it saves me money on traffic tickets and therefore insurance.

  • Brooke Johnson

    Here’s a thought… quit breaking the law and you won’t get incarcerated! It’s just that simple people. So sick of hearing about “the system trying to keep you down”. The city doesn’t have to do anything for you. The city is what you make it. Unfortunately that zip code is full of thugs, end of story.

    • Kevin B

      You sound really out of touch and ignorant. Who is asking for the city to do something for them? Did I miss that part of the article? I’ve lived in that zip code, am a young Black man, a college graduate and am pursuing my graduate degree. So that zip code is not just full of “thugs”, sorry to break it to you. I know it’s easier to divulge into stereotyping people you don’t know or understand. Be blessed.

    • chris

      seriously. lol. i was raised in 53206. 13th atkinson to be exact. my family lived in that house since it was an all white neighborhood. i still remember when the last white person moved out. i made it out. no felonies and never been to jail. everyone in that area is not a criminal. tho i would never live in that area again, i do understand the struggle. i dont even go in that area anymore. not because of the people, but because of the overzealous and crooked police. they are just as much the problem as some of the regular citizens are.

  • Kevin B

    Wow, how much more ignorant and racist can a comment be? And why is this professional news organizing allowing such comments?

  • Supergirl30

    Wow! PINCHO NICO! You are a real jackass! Not every black person is a trouble maker and our value is not based on racist bigots perceptions either!Every race of people have there problems so not one is superior to the other.

  • Tom McTrolley

    Oh great, a film to show what everyone who lives in Milwaukee or who reads the local paper already knows. This “problem” won’t change until the culture of that area changes. Now I don’t believe in jailing the drug users or dealers, that war was lost a long time ago. But all the shootings and car jackings are done by criminals who will spend time in jail and righr fully so.

  • Clavius

    The people make the community… Do you think nicer places like Oconomowoc Town, or Mequan were magically granted peace and tranquility? NO, those safer places in WI are populated mostly by honest, intelligent, citizens who try hard not to raise thuggish morans. Milwaukee actually used to be a nice place until the liberals started forcing their “diversity” agenda in the 60s…Stop acting like it’s a big mystery or conspiracy why Milwaukee has sucky living conditions.

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