Incarceration in Massachusetts started to climb after crime surged.

crimes19652013

From the early 1960s through about 1990, crime rose dramatically in Massachusetts.  Most categories of crime have fallen since the early 1990s, but remain above their level in 1965.  For example, in 2013, aggravated assaults were still at seven times their 1965 level.  The state prison population remained fairly stable at roughly 2,000 sentenced inmates until the mid 70s, but then began to rise rapidly through the 80s into the early 90s, quintupling to approximately 10,000 sentenced inmates.

While crime has fallen since the early 90s, the state prison population has remained elevated. The chart above shows crime and incarceration indexed to 1965 levels. The data underlying the chart above appear below. Note that Massachusetts has closely paralleled the national trends both as to crime and as to incarceration.

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Massachusetts Population, Major Reported Crimes and State Prison Inmates: 1965-2013

 PopulationMurderRapeRobberyAssaultBurglaryLarcenyMV TheftInmates (1/1)
19655,348,0001292902,1392,71229,65549,99728,5332004
19665,383,0001283442,4743,25533,32653,24429,2061877
19675,421,0001544112,8183,53636,62154,83736,1801603
19685,437,0001885184,0394,17147,21066,82343,8531730
19695,467,0001915924,9554,53456,45076,50146,9501806
19705,689,1701976845,6585,00364,52387,11449,9551916
19715,758,0002207158,0696,31377,145101,16156,7091978
19725,787,0002157848,8407,24771,89492,42556,272
19735,818,00025694910,5868,68477,395100,60564,5561970
19745,800,00025690712,3179,06589,891120,57279,2032096
19755,828,0002421,12113,22911,20199,802137,05891,5632140
19765,809,0001941,02810,46611,50296,554142,13576,2572290
19775,782,0001781,2039,82213,39088,594133,64265,9222681
19785,774,0002161,3079,94715,20387,482131,51963,2592750
19795,769,0002121,42811,72417,28692,570152,13566,0512636
19805,728,2882321,56213,49219,15899,697153,84960,2412754
19815,770,0002101,58015,63318,85095,080147,69157,6573067
19825,781,0002191,46412,35918,98982,212146,93355,9953690
19835,767,0002031,49512,02319,54372,291133,88349,5334334
19845,798,0002111,62710,12218,40263,756123,21448,7054482
19855,822,0002021,73410,97418,42465,231130,08850,3464940
19865,832,0002081,73111,23919,29862,455127,66852,8665390
19875,855,0001731,86810,37920,64062,056127,93954,1105636
19885,871,0002081,87610,35223,94062,307141,93352,3996265
19895,913,0002541,88111,98025,79763,004146,92553,8516757
19906,016,4252432,03013,06228,96566,942151,93355,5677553
19915,996,0002491,92611,66930,29469,977149,93055,0838265
19925,998,0002142,16611,05933,28864,318141,61047,4169075
19936,012,0002332,00610,56335,59160,220136,54849,0639851
19946,041,0002141,82510,16030,55053,222129,96242,3489952
19956,074,0002171,7599,13730,62649,669135,58636,7169854
19966,092,0001571,7677,77829,42042,896119,56232,1789736
19976,118,0001191,6476,67630,96940,491115,49429,45210119
19986,147,0001241,6875,93830,44337,333109,27526,40310218
19996,175,0001221,6635,93126,30732,964108,84525,62811158
20006,349,0971251,6965,81522,59430,600105,42525,87610712
20016,379,3041451,8566,47622,11032,430106,82127,82810095
20026,427,8011731,7777,16922,01833,243107,92226,5889610
20036,420,3571401,8488,01120,37834,963104,06925,5119223
20046,416,5051691,7997,46720,00234,469101,30322,0539060
20056,433,3671781,7517,83719,87834,72898,07918,9208979
20066,437,1931861,7428,04718,80035,181100,77117,9619405
20076,449,7551841,6347,00619,00835,662103,59214,9929778
20086,497,9671671,7367,06920,20236,094107,12812,73710132
20096,593,5871731,7347,46721,12934,515106,79911,86410342
20106,547,6292101,7456,87421,72437,767104,68511,45310259
20116,587,5361851,6286,76819,63836,533101,47110,78610222
20126,646,1441211,6506,55518,72134,63599,4539,23710491
20136,692,8241372,0896,70618,10630,73597,4289,12210148

Sources: Uniform Crime Reports furnished by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Reporting Unit.  Reports of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections online (and from the State Library). The uniform crime reports include only aggravated assaults defined as follows: “Aggravated assault—An unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. This type of assault usually is accompanied by the use of a weapon or by means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Simple assaults are excluded.”

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.