BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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February 10, 2002 202/307-0784


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States now spends about $147 billion per year on criminal justice activities, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Spending on police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal services, has increased by about 8 percent annually over the past two decades.

Although local governments in 1999 contributed the most funds to the operation of the criminal and civil justice system (almost $75 billion), between 1982 and 1999 the federal government's expenditure increased at a faster rate than state or local expenditures. Federal intergovernmental expenditure, which includes various grants to state and local governments to fund improvements in anti-crime efforts, rose from $189 million in 1982 to more than $5 billion in 1999.

Of the three major categories of justice-related activities, police protection, which includes enforcement of the law, preservation of order and apprehension of criminals, continues to be the largest expense, while corrections experienced the largest growth since 1982.

State and local governments in 1999 spent about $442 on criminal justice activities per resident in the United States. The highest per capita state and local expenditures in 1999 occurred in Alaska, New York and California. The 1999 state and local per capita criminal justice expenditures and employment were as follows:

  Expenditures   Employees*
Total $442   67
Law enforcement $190   30
Courts $90   13
Corrections $162  
* Employees per 10,000 population

In 1999 there were 2.2 million justice-related employees throughout the country. Local governments employed more people for justice activities (1.3 million men and women) than did the federal or state governments. Among local criminal justice employees, most (more than 800,000) were in law enforcement.

For every 10,000 residents in the United States, the state and local governments employed about 67 persons to provide criminal justice services:

  • 30 persons in law enforcement including 23 sworn police officers;
  • 24 staff employed in prisons, jails and community-based corrections; and
  • 13 judicial and legal employees including those working in courts, prosecutors' offices and offices providing public defense services.

In addition, the federal government spent about $97 on criminal justice per resident in the United States. For every 10,000 residents, there were 3.7 federal law enforcement employees, 2 federal judicial and legal employees and 1.1 federal corrections employees.

The data were obtained from a special compilation of the Census Bureau's Annual Government Finance Survey and Annual Survey of Public Employment, which present public expenditure and employment data pertaining to justice activities in the United States, including police, judicial and legal services and correctional activities.

The bulletin "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 1999" (NCJ 191746), was written by BJS statistician Sidra Lea Gifford. Single copies may be obtained by calling the BJS Clearinghouse at 1-800/732-3277. After the release date it will be available at:

The BJS Internet site is:

Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the Office of Justice Programs homepage at:

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After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354

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