Graphic showing the distribution of Whites, Blacks and Latinos in Massachusetts by total population, drug users, drug charges and school zone convictions

Data Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),U.S. Census 2000 and Massachusetts Sentencing Commission. (Graph: Prison Policy Initiative, 2009)

This graph originally appeared in Reaching too far, coming up short: How large sentencing enhancement zones miss the mark.

While Whites, Blacks and Latinos in Massachusetts use drugs in rough proportion to their population, Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately arrested and charged for drug law violations. The operation of the zone law magnifies this inequality. Whites are the majority of the state but only a small minority of the zone convictions. Blacks and Latinos are a minority of the state’s population and drug users, but received an overwhelming majority of the 796 years of prison time imposed for zone offenses last year.

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