Racial Disparity in Massachusetts Prisons

The Prison Policy Initiative finds that black, Latino, and Native American/Alaska Native Americans are overrepresented in Massachusetts prisons and jails, while white Americans are underrepresented. In the 2010 census, while whites constituted 64% of the United States population, they constituted 39% of the nation’s incarcerated population at a rate of 450 per 100,000 (Sakala 2014).

This graph depicts incarceration rates by race/ethnicity in Massachusetts based on the 2010 census. The rate for African Americans stands at a striking 1,502 people incarcerated per 100,000. This is over 6 times higher the rate for whites in the state. This graph, along with the Prison Policy Initiative’s briefing report “Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census: State-by-state Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity,” shows that there are stark racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration rates throughout the nation, and that the state of Massachusetts is no exception.