Wisconsin is one of only four states that has a statute specifically codifying felony murder (Wis. Stat. Ann. § 940.03), which made it easier to identify felony murder conviction data. In most other states, felony murder is written as subsections of other murder and homicide statutes.

Prosecutors can charge and convict any person of murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed or attempted to commit another specified felony and that a death occurred. Prosecutors can prove murder even when the death was caused by a third non-party (i.e. neither the person nor their accomplice). There is no possibility in Wisconsin for a person charged with felony murder to raise an affirmative defense–i.e. that he or she acted under duress, that they weren’t armed and had no reason to believe another participant was armed or intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death.

A conviction for felony murder in Wisconsin adds up to 15 years on top of any sentence authorized for the underlying felony.

Analysis: Race

Race and Conviction Rate

In Wisconsin, you are 38.9536 times more likely to be incarcerated for felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 47.7308x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals account for only 6% of Wisconsin’s population


they make up 50% of all incarcerated people


and 76% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


In terms of gender, women make up 3.95% of felony murder convictions.

In Milwaukee County, the overwhelming majority (87%) of those convicted of felony murder are Black.

Analysis: Harsh Sentences

In total, there are 329 persons incarcerated for felony murder in Wisconsin (comprising 9.35% of all murder convictions). 
Of these individuals, one is sentenced to life in prison.

The remaining 130 persons are sentenced to a cumulative

2,948 years in prison

For those not serving life sentences, the median number of years in prison they were sentenced to is 20 years.

Analysis: Youthful Impact

Young people in Wisconsin are disproportionately impacted by the felony murder rule.

  • 30

    Median age at offense for all crimes

  • 22

    Median age at offense for felony murder

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 4.8 / 5 (A)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

We created our dataset by examining Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WDOC) data for people whose charge was listed as “Felony murder.” Wisconsin has a unique statute for felony murder found in Wisconsin Statutes 940.03. We obtained the data through a public records request set under the Wisconsin Open Records Law. This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.

Access the Data

Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.

This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.