How much did the US spend on police, prisons in FY2021?
Speaking Security Newsletter | Advisory Note for Activists and Candidates, n°143 | 20 January 2022
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How much did the US spend on police and prisons in FY2021?
At least $277,153,670,501. The two main categories to count are 1) spending on federal law enforcement and prisons, and 2) spending on police and prisons by state and local governments. Total federal spending on law enforcement and prisons totaled $71,931,937,501 in fiscal year 2021. The most recent data we’ve got for state and local government spending is from 2019 (via Census Bureau). The total funding obligated toward police and prisons that year was $205,221,733,000. I can’t point to any data that suggests FY2021 figures will turn out to be lower than that. State/local spending on police and prisons is on an upward trajectory, too.
The US spends at least $759,325,125 per day on police and prisons, a breakdown
So based on available data, $277 billion is the best estimate I could come up with for total US spending on law enforcement and corrections. That’s about $25 billion higher than China’s 2020 military budget.
*Update, 21 Jan 2022: The $89.3M figure above for “‘1033’ transfers to state/local police refers to the Pentagon’s 1033 program. That number is correct for the value of the militarized equipment that flowed through the program in FY2021. However, the program also authorizes transfer of non-military equipment and I left that category out. Having just run the numbers now, the total 1033 transfers for non-military equipment in FY2021 is $96,718,663. Therefore, the number in the table should be $186,037,164.
Thanks for your time,
Stephen (@stephensemler; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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