Government expenditures for "justice" have been growing at an average rate of 8.1% a year since 1982.14 A staggering $36 billion in 1982 grew 309% to $147 billion in 1999.15 Correcting for inflation, that's an increase of 145%.
While some police and judicial expenses are not for crime control, the government figures do not include the $104 billion private security industry. Criminologist Nils Christie estimated the combined size of the U.S. public and private crime control industry at $210 billion in the year 2000.16 In comparison, the U.S. Defense Department spent $281 billion in 2000, $8.6 billion less than it spent a decade prior in 1990.17 By contrast, the crime control industry grew each year an average of 8%.
As the combined total of all of its parts, the crime control industry has had a very smooth growth without the periodic changes of any particular indicator.
This page is an excerpt from The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (April 2003) by Peter Wagner, published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.
14 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 1999, Table 1.
15 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 1999, p 1.
16 Nils Christie, Crime Control as Industry, 2000 ed, p 140.
17 Statistical Abstract of the United States 2001, Table 491.