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Government Spending for Law Enforcement Up 75% in 6 Years

March 30, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Government spending for law enforcement increased by 75% from 1979 to 1985 to $45.6 billion, while spending for all government services rose 90% in that time, according to a federal study issued Sunday.

In addition, the study by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics found that just 2.9% of total government spending financed law enforcement activities in 1985.

More than 20% of all government spending went for social programs, while more than 18% paid for defense and international relations. Thirteen percent went for education and nearly 11% was spent on interest to pay the public debt.

$13 Billion for Prisons

The nation spent $22 billion on police protection in 1985 and about $13 billion to build prisons and jails and to operate probation programs, the report said. Another $10 billion financed courts, prosecutors, legal services and public defenders.

From 1979 to 1985, federal spending for enforcement of civil and criminal laws rose 68% to $5.8 billion, while all federal spending rose 92%, the study found.

State and local governments increased their spending for justice activities 76% during the period, while all state and local spending rose 72%.

Total government spending in 1985 was more than $1.5 trillion.

For each government dollar spent in the nation, 1.4 cents went to police protection, 0.8 of a cent was for correctional programs and 0.6 of a cent went for judicial and legal services.

Justice Activities

Local governments made more than half of the nation's expenditures for justice activities--$25.3 billion. State governments spent nearly $15 billion and the federal government spent less than $6 billion.

States spent about half of their money on building and maintaining prisons, while local governments spent about two-thirds of their money on police protection.

In October, 1985, the nation's civil and criminal justice systems employed more than 1.4 million people.

Federal, state and local governments spent $191 for each U.S. resident on justice activities in 1985, including $92 for police protection and $55 for corrections.

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