A new wave of district attorneys could close the front door on mass incarceration.
For years, district attorneys’ offices across the country have been the front door of mass incarceration. In Boston, it is well known that persistent, documented racial disparities often go unchecked. While Massachusetts is a “blue state,” it seems Black and Brown perspectives, opinions, and lives don’t always matter. Although the city has made progress, including six of our 13 city council members being women of color and a newly appointed Black police commissioner, our neighborhoods, schools, and criminal justice system mirror the segregation for which we were called out nationally during the days of court-ordered busing.
Massachusetts incarcerates people at higher rates “than nearly every other country on earth,” according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Despite the fact that Massachusetts spends tens of thousands of dollars per year to incarcerate a single individual, many in prison do not have access to such fundamental needs as clean drinking water.
Too often, issues affecting Black and Brown people are brushed under the rug, left for brave journalists to reveal in exposé articles. A short conversation follows and cities may even host dialogues on race, but action isn’t taken and little or nothing changes. In fact, at this moment there is a massive backlog of unsolved homicides of mostly Black and Brown people in Boston. The same system that has ignored these unsolved homicides is also responsible for the over-policing, over-prosecuting, and over-sentencing of people of color. Black and Latinx people are incarcerated at 7.4 and 4.3 times the rate of white people in the Commonwealth. According to the Boston Globe, “This means that the rate of disparity for [Black people] in Massachusetts is