Saturday, January 07, 2023

The Cost of Locking Up Americans

The United States houses around 1 in 5 of the world's prisoners. In fact 1.07% of all working age Americans are currently in jail. One obvious disadvantage of locking-up 1 in every 100 adults is the financial burden. The other 99 working age adults have to pay the huge financial cost of incarcerating so many Americans.

The largest jail system in the USA is in Los Angeles County and Million Dollar Hoods has mapped out how much is being spent on incarceration in every neighborhood in Los Angeles County. The name of the project should give you a little clue as to how much it costs to lock-up the residents in some LA neighborhoods.

The Million Dollar Hoods Map Room visualizes "the neighborhoods where LASD and LAPD spent the most on incarceration between 2012 to 2017." If you set the map filter control to $1 million you can see all the neighborhoods in LA County where the cost of incarceration is over one million dollars. 

According to the map locking-up the residents of Lancaster cost the county the most money. The Los Angeles Sherrif's Department spent $80,471,600 (2012-2017) to jail 19,910 people from the neighborhood. By my calculations 19,910 is nearly 12% of the entire population of Lancaster. Which means the Sherrif's Department locked up over 1 in 10 of the neighborhood between 2012 and 2017 (although I guess some of the residents may have been locked up more than once during that period - which would mean the percentage of the population jailed could be smaller). 

At the other end of the scale only 15 people in Angeles Crest were arrested in the same period. However the population of Angeles Crest is only just over 1,000 people. Therefore the Sherrif's Department still locked-up around 1.5% of the local population.

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