Courtesy of a link at Second City Cop, we find a study of how much Chicago spent on incarcerating criminals from each block of that city in recent years. It's mind-boggling.
In just five years, the State of Illinois dedicated more than $2.4 million to the 4800 block of West Adams Street in Austin.
But don't look for new developments or freshly paved roads on that stretch of street, because that's not where the money went. No, $2.4 million is the amount of money the state spent on incarcerating people for drug offenses from that block alone.
. . .
The 4800 block of West Adams and 4,636 other blocks in the city were the focus of Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks, a new data project published Monday. A collaboration between social justice advocates and tech company DataMade, the site features an interactive block-by-block breakdown of how much money the city spent on jailing criminals from 2005 to 2009.
. . .
"All we hear about is how the state is in billions of dollars in debt, and meanwhile we have more than a billion dollars every year pumped into a corrections system that's had a track record of failure," said Cooper, the co-director of Adler University's Institute on Social Exclusion. "We're always hearing about money being spent on development, and here you have this shadow budget pumping tons of money into taking people out of neighborhoods, instead of bringing them in."
There's more at the link.
The project's home page offers an amazing perspective on crime in the Windy City. You can run your cursor over an interactive map of the worst-affected areas. Each block will show you, in a window at the foot of the screen, how much was spent there on drug-related incarceration over a five-year period. One block I picked at random showed a cost of no less than $5,138,247 - more than a million dollars per year in incarceration costs for a single city block. (In the screen capture image below I've added the circle and line joining the block to the cost figure, for ease of reference.)
The numbers show two factors very clearly:
- How much it costs Chicago to endure certain neighborhoods in its midst;
- How much it costs Chicago to not clean up those neighborhoods. I can't believe that cleaning them up would be any more expensive than policing them, and if they could keep them cleaned up, it would save a bundle in the future.
It's also sobering to think that those figures are for the high-crime area of only one city. I'd love to see the numbers for each of the 100 largest US cities, and tally them up. I think taxpayers across the nation might revolt if they could see the costs involved!