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US Budget Analysis:

Policing and Corrections Spending by State

Last Updated: 10/21/2022
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Amid mounting cases of excessive force by law enforcement officers and discussions about states' budgets, MoneyGeek analyzed the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data to determine how much states spend on policing and corrections. We also compared spending in Democratic and Republican-controlled states to see how political leaning influenced state expenditures. Here's what we found.

Key Findings:
  • The U.S. spent nearly $215 billion on law enforcement, up $10 billion from the previous year. Nearly $129 billion was spent on policing and $86 billion on corrections.
  • Washington, D.C. and Alaska spent the most on police and corrections per capita, spending around $1,300 and $1,000 per capita, respectively.
  • Despite being considered tax-friendly states, Florida and Nevada spent the highest percentages of their budgets on law enforcement (7.3% and 7%, respectively).
  • While Democratic states spent 39% more per capita on law enforcement, both Republican and Democratic states spent about the same percentage of their budgets on policing and corrections (5.09% and 5.07%, respectively).

Which States Spend the Most on Policing and Corrections?

MoneyGeek analyzed police and corrections spending data for each state to find the places that spend the most money on law enforcement. States were ranked using per capita spending and the proportion of total state and local spending to learn which states spend the most on policing and corrections. Each state was assessed on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more spending on policing and corrections per capita.

While police and corrections expenditures may be associated with geographically large areas with high populations, data shows Nevada (ranked No. 1) and Washington, D.C. (ranked No. 2) spend a more significant portion of their budgets on law enforcement than areas with more people.

While national per capita spending on law enforcement and corrections was $655 in 2020, per capita state spending ranged from $1,337 in Washington, D.C., to $390 in Kentucky. Nevada, one of MoneyGeek’s 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S., spent 7% of its budget on law enforcement. Florida, another tax-friendly state, spent 7.3% of its budget on policing. Both states spent the highest proportion of their local and state expenditures on law enforcement, well above the national average of 5.1%.

Police and Corrections Spending by State

State
Rank
Score
Policing & Corrections Per Capita Spend
Policing & Corrections % of Total Spend
Policing & Corrections Expenditures ($ Millions)
Corrections Spend as % of Policing

Florida

1

100.0

$704

7.3%

$15,112

50%

Nevada

2

98.6

$756

7.0%

$2,328

58%

Maryland

3

91.9

$842

6.3%

$5,093

68%

California

4

91.6

$981

5.7%

$38,763

74%

District of Columbia

5

86.4

$1,337

4.0%

$944

39%

Arizona

6

84.4

$655

6.7%

$4,764

63%

Alaska

7

81.4

$1,030

5.0%

$754

86%

New Mexico

8

74.5

$759

5.7%

$1,591

108%

Delaware

9

74.1

$774

5.7%

$754

93%

Idaho

10

68.3

$576

6.2%

$1,029

90%

Virginia

11

65.9

$656

5.7%

$5,599

107%

Rhode Island

12

63.7

$728

5.3%

$771

50%

New York

13

62.3

$904

4.5%

$17,594

59%

New Jersey

14

59.1

$691

5.2%

$6,136

54%

Colorado

15

55.5

$664

5.2%

$3,821

65%

Montana

16

55.1

$608

5.4%

$649

74%

Oregon

17

52.5

$736

4.7%

$3,102

95%

Wisconsin

18

51.5

$604

5.2%

$3,514

83%

Pennsylvania

19

50.2

$665

4.9%

$8,512

98%

North Carolina

20

50.0

$549

5.3%

$5,760

59%

Wyoming

21

49.0

$782

4.4%

$453

96%

Illinois

22

47.0

$633

4.9%

$8,025

41%

Texas

23

44.7

$547

5.1%

$15,873

70%

Tennessee

24

44.2

$515

5.2%

$3,520

54%

Georgia

25

42.4

$491

5.2%

$5,217

71%

Nebraska

26

42.0

$611

4.7%

$1,182

102%

New Hampshire

27

42.0

$525

5.0%

$714

45%

Minnesota

28

41.5

$633

4.6%

$3,571

48%

Kansas

29

39.8

$553

4.8%

$1,610

52%

Oklahoma

30

39.1

$487

5.0%

$1,928

69%

Michigan

31

38.1

$550

4.7%

$5,490

88%

South Dakota

32

34.2

$478

4.8%

$423

85%

Connecticut

33

33.3

$564

4.4%

$2,010

55%

Louisiana

34

33.0

$526

4.6%

$2,445

61%

Missouri

35

32.7

$480

4.7%

$2,947

50%

Ohio

36

32.6

$555

4.4%

$6,485

60%

Washington

37

30.5

$608

4.1%

$4,627

82%

Alabama

38

26.5

$477

4.4%

$2,340

61%

West Virginia

39

25.5

$492

4.3%

$881

93%

North Dakota

40

25.5

$574

4.0%

$437

70%

Vermont

41

23.3

$588

3.8%

$367

67%

Massachusetts

42

23.1

$597

3.8%

$4,117

69%

Arkansas

43

21.2

$422

4.4%

$1,274

73%

Hawaii

44

20.6

$549

3.9%

$777

43%

Utah

45

20.3

$484

4.1%

$1,553

68%

Mississippi

46

16.7

$446

4.1%

$1,327

68%

South Carolina

47

13.0

$431

3.9%

$2,219

57%

Indiana

48

11.0

$407

3.9%

$2,740

71%

Maine

49

9.5

$425

3.8%

$572

74%

Iowa

50

3.8

$441

3.4%

$1,391

52%

Kentucky

51

0.0

$390

3.5%

$1,741

113%

United States

N/A

N/A

$655

5.1%

$214,975

67%

Democratic and Republican State Policing and Corrections Spending

Our analysis of per capita spending found that blue states spent 39% more on policing and corrections than red states in 2020. Interestingly, red states spent about the same percentage of their state budgets on policing and corrections as blue states, with each spending 5.09% and 5.07%, respectively.

Detailed Findings

The detailed findings of MoneyGeek's analysis break down the spending on policing and corrections individually. Some states vary widely, with increased or decreased spending on one category over the other.

Police Spending

State
Rank
Score
Policing Per Capita Spend
Policing % of Total Spend
Policing Expenditures ($ Millions)

Florida

1

100.0

$470

4.9%

$10,100

Nevada

2

86.3

$477

4.4%

$1,470

Arizona

3

76.1

$401

4.1%

$2,917

Maryland

4

66.0

$503

3.8%

$3,039

Rhode Island

5

59.4

$485

3.5%

$513

New Hampshire

6

57.3

$362

3.5%

$492

Illinois

7

56.1

$448

3.4%

$5,678

New Jersey

8

55.1

$449

3.4%

$3,987

Tennessee

9

54.3

$335

3.4%

$2,290

North Carolina

10

53.7

$345

3.4%

$3,616

California

11

51.5

$564

3.3%

$22,282

Idaho

12

50.0

$302

3.2%

$540

Missouri

13

48.1

$321

3.2%

$1,971

Kansas

14

47.8

$363

3.2%

$1,059

Colorado

15

46.7

$402

3.1%

$2,317

Montana

16

45.6

$350

3.1%

$374

Minnesota

17

45.6

$428

3.1%

$2,414

Georgia

18

43.5

$287

3.0%

$3,042

Texas

19

42.5

$323

3.0%

$9,354

Oklahoma

20

42.1

$288

3.0%

$1,139

Delaware

21

40.7

$401

2.9%

$391

District of Columbia

22

39.6

$965

2.9%

$681

New York

23

38.3

$570

2.9%

$11,084

Connecticut

24

38.2

$363

2.9%

$1,293

Wisconsin

25

37.9

$330

2.8%

$1,922

Louisiana

26

37.7

$326

2.8%

$1,516

Ohio

27

35.8

$347

2.8%

$4,057

Alabama

28

35.3

$296

2.8%

$1,453

New Mexico

29

35.2

$365

2.8%

$765

Virginia

30

35.2

$316

2.8%

$2,701

Hawaii

31

33.2

$384

2.7%

$543

Alaska

32

33.2

$555

2.7%

$406

South Dakota

33

30.8

$259

2.6%

$229

Arkansas

34

28.5

$244

2.5%

$737

Michigan

35

27.8

$293

2.5%

$2,922

South Carolina

36

27.8

$275

2.5%

$1,418

Pennsylvania

37

26.1

$335

2.5%

$4,290

Utah

38

25.6

$289

2.4%

$927

Mississippi

39

24.7

$265

2.4%

$789

Oregon

40

24.6

$376

2.4%

$1,587

North Dakota

41

22.7

$337

2.4%

$257

Nebraska

42

21.6

$302

2.3%

$584

Indiana

43

21.0

$238

2.3%

$1,600

Vermont

44

20.8

$351

2.3%

$219

Iowa

45

19.9

$290

2.3%

$915

Washington

46

19.9

$334

2.3%

$2,542

West Virginia

47

19.2

$254

2.2%

$455

Massachusetts

48

19.0

$353

2.2%

$2,432

Wyoming

49

18.8

$400

2.2%

$231

Maine

50

17.1

$244

2.2%

$328

Kentucky

51

0.0

$183

1.6%

$818

United States

$392

3.0%

$128,833

Corrections Spending

State
Rank
Score
Corrections Per Capita Spend
Corrections % of Total Spend
Corrections Expenditures ($ Millions)

New Mexico

1

100.0

$394

2.98%

$827

Virginia

2

98.8

$340

2.96%

$2,898

Idaho

3

97.0

$273

2.93%

$488

Delaware

4

86.1

$373

2.73%

$363

Arizona

5

78.6

$254

2.58%

$1,847

Nevada

6

77.8

$278

2.57%

$857

Maryland

7

76.0

$340

2.54%

$2,054

California

8

70.3

$417

2.43%

$16,481

Pennsylvania

9

70.0

$330

2.42%

$4,222

Florida

10

69.1

$233

2.41%

$5,011

Nebraska

11

67.2

$309

2.37%

$597

Wisconsin

12

66.3

$273

2.36%

$1,592

Oregon

13

63.7

$359

2.31%

$1,515

Alaska

14

63.7

$475

2.31%

$348

Montana

15

62.0

$258

2.28%

$275

South Dakota

16

58.9

$219

2.22%

$194

Michigan

17

58.8

$257

2.22%

$2,568

Georgia

18

56.1

$205

2.16%

$2,175

Wyoming

19

54.2

$382

2.13%

$221

West Virginia

20

52.4

$238

2.10%

$426

Texas

21

52.0

$225

2.09%

$6,519

Oklahoma

22

50.6

$199

2.06%

$788

Colorado

23

49.1

$261

2.03%

$1,505

North Carolina

24

46.7

$204

1.99%

$2,144

Washington

25

39.7

$274

1.86%

$2,085

Arkansas

26

39.5

$178

1.85%

$538

New Jersey

27

38.3

$242

1.83%

$2,149

Kentucky

28

38.2

$207

1.83%

$923

Tennessee

29

37.2

$180

1.81%

$1,230

Rhode Island

30

35.4

$243

1.78%

$258

Louisiana

31

33.3

$200

1.74%

$928

Alabama

32

30.4

$181

1.68%

$887

New York

33

30.1

$335

1.68%

$6,510

Ohio

34

29.3

$208

1.66%

$2,428

Mississippi

35

28.8

$181

1.65%

$539

Utah

36

28.7

$195

1.65%

$626

Kansas

37

28.5

$189

1.65%

$552

North Dakota

38

28.5

$236

1.65%

$180

Indiana

39

28.0

$169

1.64%

$1,140

Maine

40

26.7

$181

1.62%

$244

Connecticut

41

24.9

$201

1.58%

$716

Missouri

42

24.5

$159

1.57%

$977

New Hampshire

43

23.9

$163

1.56%

$222

Massachusetts

44

23.2

$244

1.55%

$1,685

Vermont

45

22.8

$236

1.54%

$147

Minnesota

46

19.6

$205

1.48%

$1,157

South Carolina

47

16.5

$156

1.42%

$801

Illinois

48

16.2

$185

1.42%

$2,346

Iowa

49

3.2

$151

1.18%

$476

Hawaii

50

2.4

$165

1.16%

$234

District of Columbia

51

0.0

$372

1.12%

$262

United States

$262

2.04%

$86,142

Expert Insight on Police Spending and State Budgeting

States obtain funds through a combination of state, local and property taxes. Additional revenue may also come from tourism and various types of licenses. To get a better sense of how state policing and corrections budgets can affect people served by these systems, we spoke to experts familiar with state and local budgets and how police and corrections expenditures affect other programs.

  1. How does state spending on policing and corrections affect local areas?
  2. How can taxpayers let states and cities know how they feel about expenditures on corrections and policing?
  3. Corrections spending represents 40% of the combined spending on policing and corrections. How are these expenditures related, and what does this spending mean for state and local budgets?
Josh Michtom
Josh Michtom

Hartford City Councilman and Public Defender

Dr. Christine Castro
Dr. Christine Castro

Ph.D. in American Studies

Bennett Capers
Bennett Capers

Professor of Law and Director of the Center on Race, Law, and Justice at Fordham Law School

Methodology

To determine which states spend the most and least on policing and corrections, MoneyGeek reviewed expenditures for each state, including state and local (municipal and county) government expenditures using the most recent data available, which is from 2020. We then used the following metrics to determine final scores and rankings:

  • Per Capita Spend on Policing and Corrections (full weight, 50%): This value is calculated as the combined expenditures on policing and corrections divided by the state's population and is scaled to a range from 0 to 100.
  • Police and Corrections Spend as a Percentage of All Spend (full weight, 50%): This value is calculated as the combined policing and corrections expenditures divided by the total amounts spent by state and local governments and is scaled to a range from 0 to 100.

Red and blue labels were used to define each state by the voting history in the past five presidential elections. States where the republican candidate won three out of the five elections were labeled as red, and states where the Democratic candidate won three out of the five elections were labeled as blue.

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