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Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2021
17 pages

This report by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) presents data for 2017 on federal, state, and local government expenditures and employment for the criminal justice functions of police protection, judicial and legal functions, and corrections.


The data are based on the BJS Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts series, which presents data from the Finance and Employment components of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Census of Governments. In 2017, real (inflation-adjusted) justice system expenditures by federal, state, and local governments were the highest they had been in 21 years ($305 billion, up from $188 billion in 1997). The data show that in 2017, county and municipal governments spent nearly $100 billion on police protection and nearly $30 billion on corrections. Inflation-adjusted justice system expenditures increased 62 percent, from $188 billion in 1997 to $305 billion in 2017. State governments spent nearly $50 billion in direct expenditures for corrections activities, 88 percent of which were for correctional institutions. The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in state and local justice systems increased 16 percent from 1997 to 2007, then declined 1 percent from 2007 to 2017. In 2017, state and local governments employed 708,079 sworn police-protection FTE employees, an increase of 19,572 from 2012. Per capita police-protection expenditures in 2017 were highest in the District of Columbia ($911) and New York ($530) and lowest in Kentucky ($171). Per capita corrections expenditures ranged from a low of $139 in Iowa to a high of $436 in Alaska.  10 tables and 1 figure

Date Published: July 1, 2021