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Report: High Incarceration Rates Harm Boston's Communities Of Color

A new report finds that in many of Boston's communities of color, incarceration rates are "much more elevated" than crime rates.

The report, titled "The Geography of Incarceration," comes from The Boston Foundation, MassINC and the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

The analysis finds that in places like Franklin Field and Grove Hall, rates of house of correction committments were higher than rates of property crime and violent crime in 2014.

Report co-author Ben Forman, of MassINC, said some neighborhoods cross a threshold where incarceration becomes more harmful than helpful.

"After 30 years of get-tough-on-crime policies, certain neighborhoods in the city of Boston have mass incarceration where almost every other house has a person lost to incarceration," he said. "That really affects the fabric of the community."

A screenshot from the report
A screenshot from the report

Boston NAACP president Michael Curry welcomed the report.

"We spend way too much money incarcerating people, instead of providing them with the support and the tools that will make them valuable and productive citizens," Curry said.

The report offers suggestions to policymakers, including replacing mandatory minimum sentences with evidence-based approaches to sentencing, and focusing jail diversion practices in communities with particularly high rates of incarceration.

With reporting by WBUR's Delores Handy

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