US Budget Study

Policing and Corrections Spending by State

By  
  |  
By  
  |  
Featured Experts

Police and corrections budgets became a flashpoint in 2020 due largely to nationwide protests and social unrest brought on by highly publicized cases of excessive force by some law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement budgets are being reevaluated as some jurisdictions consider police spending cuts or reallocation of funds. Local and state government budgets for policing and corrections include sentencing, incarceration and probation. MoneyGeek’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that law enforcement spending in the U.S. was $200 billion in 2018, which breaks down to $119 billion on policing and $81 billion on corrections.

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

Which States Spend the Most on Policing and Corrections?

While police and corrections expenditures may be associated with larger or more densely populated states, data shows Nevada (ranked No. 1) and Alaska (ranked No. 2) spend a larger portion of their budgets on law enforcement than states with higher populations and more metropolitan areas.

While national per capita spending on law enforcement and corrections was $612 in 2018, per capita state spending ranged from $1,254 in Washington, D.C. to $393 in Indiana. Nevada, one of MoneyGeek’s 10 most tax-friendly states in the U.S., spent 7.8% of its budget on law enforcement. Florida, another tax-friendly state, spent 7.3% of its budgets on policing. Both states spent the highest proportion of their local and state expenditures on law enforcement, well above the national average of 5.3%.

Police and Corrections Spending by State

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

Nevada

1

100.0

$707

7.76%

$2,146

Alaska

2

96.4

$1,178

5.23%

$868

District of Columbia

3

92.8

$1,254

4.64%

$881

Florida

4

86.6

$644

7.30%

$13,720

Maryland

5

83.2

$768

6.49%

$4,640

California

6

83.0

$898

5.84%

$35,511

Arizona

7

70.6

$574

6.73%

$4,118

Delaware

8

68.6

$733

5.83%

$709

New Mexico

9

62.7

$687

5.71%

$1,440

Virginia

10

62.6

$616

6.06%

$5,248

New York

11

59.8

$871

4.64%

$17,030

Rhode Island

12

57.2

$679

5.44%

$717

Idaho

13

56.0

$503

6.24%

$882

Illinois

14

55.7

$656

5.47%

$8,353

Wisconsin

15

48.4

$588

5.38%

$3,418

Oregon

16

47.8

$668

4.95%

$2,800

North Carolina

17

46.0

$520

5.58%

$5,397

Colorado

18

45.3

$589

5.20%

$3,353

New Jersey

19

45.2

$625

5.01%

$5,571

Pennsylvania

20

45.1

$605

5.11%

$7,746

Montana

21

44.8

$556

5.33%

$591

Wyoming

22

44.2

$749

4.35%

$433

Georgia

23

42.9

$476

5.62%

$5,010

Texas

24

41.9

$510

5.39%

$14,640

Minnesota

25

39.6

$612

4.76%

$3,431

Louisiana

26

36.7

$532

4.99%

$2,478

Michigan

27

36.7

$519

5.05%

$5,188

Vermont

28

36.2

$614

4.55%

$385

Tennessee

29

36.1

$480

5.21%

$3,250

New Hampshire

30

35.8

$489

5.15%

$663

Oklahoma

31

31.6

$453

5.08%

$1,786

Missouri

32

31.0

$465

4.99%

$2,847

Ohio

33

30.3

$525

4.65%

$6,140

Nebraska

34

28.8

$545

4.47%

$1,051

South Dakota

35

28.6

$455

4.90%

$401

Kansas

36

26.0

$485

4.61%

$1,411

Connecticut

37

25.3

$516

4.41%

$1,842

Washington

38

21.7

$530

4.14%

$3,993

Hawaii

39

17.8

$504

4.04%

$715

Massachusetts

40

17.1

$535

3.85%

$3,694

Utah

41

16.8

$443

4.29%

$1,399

Mississippi

42

16.7

$435

4.32%

$1,300

North Dakota

43

14.7

$513

3.82%

$390

Maine

44

14.6

$421

4.27%

$564

Indiana

45

13.9

$393

4.36%

$2,631

Arkansas

46

13.9

$398

4.34%

$1,201

Alabama

47

13.3

$426

4.17%

$2,082

West Virginia

48

12.2

$425

4.11%

$767

South Carolina

49

11.2

$419

4.08%

$2,128

Kentucky

50

7.2

$410

3.90%

$1,830

Iowa

51

0.0

$405

3.51%

$1,280

Democratic and Republican State Policing and Corrections Spending

Analysis of per capita spending finds that blue states spend 38% more on policing and corrections than red states. When analyzing the proportion of their budgets on policing and corrections, both red and blue spend about 5.3% of their state budgets.

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)

District of Columbia

1

100.0

$894

3.31%

$628

Nevada

2

92.2

$448

4.91%

$1,358

Florida

3

85.1

$417

4.72%

$8,877

Maryland

4

69.4

$455

3.85%

$2,750

Illinois

5

64.6

$442

3.69%

$5,631

Rhode Island

6

63.7

$450

3.61%

$476

California

7

61.8

$505

3.28%

$19,984

Arizona

8

59.2

$334

3.91%

$2,395

New York

9

58.7

$552

2.94%

$10,790

Alaska

10

52.7

$577

2.56%

$425

New Jersey

11

49.2

$398

3.19%

$3,542

North Carolina

12

48.3

$323

3.47%

$3,355

New Hampshire

13

48.2

$327

3.45%

$444

Minnesota

14

46.4

$395

3.07%

$2,214

Delaware

15

44.2

$381

3.03%

$368

Missouri

16

43.8

$310

3.33%

$1,898

Tennessee

17

43.7

$307

3.33%

$2,078

Louisiana

18

42.2

$335

3.14%

$1,561

Massachusetts

19

40.6

$392

2.82%

$2,706

Ohio

20

39.7

$340

3.01%

$3,971

Colorado

21

38.8

$337

2.98%

$1,920

Connecticut

22

38.5

$343

2.94%

$1,226

Wisconsin

23

38.3

$327

3.00%

$1,903

Idaho

24

37.3

$261

3.24%

$458

Texas

25

36.6

$291

3.08%

$8,361

Vermont

26

36.6

$369

2.74%

$231

New Mexico

27

36.1

$342

2.84%

$716

Georgia

28

36.0

$268

3.16%

$2,814

Montana

29

35.7

$309

2.96%

$328

Virginia

30

35.0

$301

2.96%

$2,567

Hawaii

31

34.4

$343

2.75%

$487

Kansas

32

32.3

$300

2.85%

$872

Oklahoma

33

32.3

$267

2.99%

$1,052

Pennsylvania

34

29.4

$314

2.66%

$4,025

Oregon

35

29.2

$341

2.53%

$1,429

Wyoming

36

27.0

$385

2.23%

$223

Alabama

37

24.4

$269

2.63%

$1,312

Michigan

38

24.3

$269

2.62%

$2,691

South Dakota

39

23.4

$248

2.67%

$219

Mississippi

40

23.0

$262

2.60%

$782

South Carolina

41

22.4

$263

2.56%

$1,336

Utah

42

21.4

$261

2.53%

$825

Washington

43

19.3

$293

2.29%

$2,210

Arkansas

44

18.3

$231

2.51%

$696

North Dakota

45

17.3

$294

2.19%

$224

Iowa

46

16.9

$266

2.30%

$840

Indiana

47

16.7

$223

2.48%

$1,493

Nebraska

48

16.0

$272

2.23%

$525

Maine

49

14.8

$232

2.35%

$311

West Virginia

50

9.7

$223

2.16%

$403

Kentucky

51

0.0

$194

1.85%

$868

Corrections Spending

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

Alaska

1

100.0

$601

2.67%

$443

Virginia

2

76.9

$315

3.10%

$2,681

New Mexico

3

74.6

$346

2.87%

$724

Delaware

4

73.3

$352

2.80%

$340

California

5

71.6

$393

2.55%

$15,527

Idaho

6

65.3

$242

3.00%

$424

Maryland

7

64.4

$313

2.65%

$1,891

Nevada

8

63.5

$260

2.85%

$788

Arizona

9

60.2

$240

2.81%

$1,723

Oregon

10

60.2

$327

2.42%

$1,371

Pennsylvania

11

56.6

$291

2.46%

$3,721

Wyoming

12

56.2

$364

2.11%

$210

Florida

13

52.2

$227

2.58%

$4,843

Wisconsin

14

51.0

$261

2.38%

$1,515

Michigan

15

51.0

$250

2.43%

$2,497

Montana

16

49.1

$247

2.37%

$263

Nebraska

17

48.5

$273

2.24%

$526

Georgia

18

46.9

$209

2.46%

$2,196

Colorado

19

45.5

$252

2.22%

$1,433

Texas

20

44.0

$219

2.31%

$6,279

South Dakota

21

40.3

$207

2.23%

$182

New York

22

39.6

$319

1.70%

$6,241

Kentucky

23

36.5

$215

2.05%

$962

North Carolina

24

35.9

$197

2.11%

$2,042

District of Columbia

25

34.6

$360

1.33%

$253

Oklahoma

26

34.0

$186

2.09%

$735

Vermont

27

33.7

$245

1.82%

$153

Washington

28

33.5

$237

1.85%

$1,783

West Virginia

29

32.1

$201

1.95%

$364

Rhode Island

30

32.0

$228

1.83%

$241

New Jersey

31

31.9

$228

1.83%

$2,030

Maine

32

29.6

$189

1.91%

$253

Illinois

33

29.0

$214

1.78%

$2,722

Louisiana

34

28.7

$197

1.85%

$917

Minnesota

35

26.9

$217

1.69%

$1,218

Tennessee

36

26.7

$173

1.88%

$1,172

Indiana

37

26.5

$170

1.89%

$1,138

North Dakota

38

25.4

$219

1.63%

$166

Kansas

39

24.9

$185

1.76%

$538

Utah

40

24.5

$182

1.76%

$575

Arkansas

41

24.5

$167

1.82%

$505

Mississippi

42

22.4

$174

1.72%

$518

Ohio

43

21.8

$186

1.64%

$2,169

New Hampshire

44

20.5

$162

1.70%

$219

Missouri

45

18.6

$155

1.66%

$949

Connecticut

46

15.7

$172

1.48%

$616

Alabama

47

15.6

$158

1.54%

$770

South Carolina

48

14.9

$156

1.52%

$792

Hawaii

49

9.2

$161

1.29%

$228

Iowa

50

4.4

$139

1.21%

$440

Massachusetts

51

0.0

$143

1.03%

$988

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. 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.

Loading...