How We Got Here: State of Illinois Direct Expenditures on Criminal Justice From IRRPP

IRRPP Research

Calls to defund the police are rooted in the reality that police treat black and brown communities very differently from white communities in our nation. Calls to defund the police ask us to pay attention to skewed funding priorities where we continue to pour money into policing and the criminal justice system while divesting from social services and public goods.

The Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy's Tale of Three Cities: The State of Racial Justice in Chicago Report pointed out that, in 2012, the annual amount of direct expenditures the State of Illinois spends on corrections was $1.35 billion. Another $411 million was spent on police and protection, and some $375 million was spent on the judicial courts. At the state level alone, that comes to roughly $2.1 billion. How did state spending on criminal justice compare to other expenditures on social services and public works? With the exception of healthcare expenditures, which increased 462% between 1977 and 2012, the growth of money spent on corrections outpaced every other major expense of the state.

Increasing spending trends on prisons stand in contrast to a decline in funding for public works and social services. More money is spent on criminal justice than on parks and recreation, libraries, and hospitals. Since the late 1970s, corrections spending has grown by 232%, a growth rate that is over two and a half times that of higher education. Spending rates for incarceration are densely concentrated among black and Latinx communities in Chicago.