An amazing set of crime statistics

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:

  1. How much it costs Chicago to endure certain neighborhoods in its midst;
  2. 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!



  1. Holy mackerel Peter. I don't know exactly what you mean by cleaning up the neighborhoods. Some people who are not your friend will see a darker meaning no matter that your past suggests otherwise.

    Assigning a purely monetary value to that idea sort of provides SJWs with a kind of raw ammunition a more reticent group of people — for instance not ones schooled at and funded by the Institute for Social Research — would never provide to drunken 13 year olds.

    This study comes with a pinkish hue to it because it equates cleaning up in only monetary terms whereas the once still vibrant society understands there is far more unpaid personal involvement required, and that it is priceless.

    Sadly, what is now deemed as priceless in the current advanced state of our civilization has been relegated mostly as oddities in a commercial tagline.

  2. Pascal Fervor:

    Marvelous job tippy-toeing through the tulips there…

    Hell of a deal when we can no longer speak our minds without fear of reprisal.

    In the United States no less.

  3. We know drug dealers and users are not all Boy Scouts, but I'm for decriminalizing the stuff. Those who are involved would have to find more honest work or starve and the government could use that money for real criminals.

    Of course, a commensurate decrease in government so that jobs would be around would also help.

  4. Since "cleaning up the neighbourhoods" involves arresting people and putting them in the very expensive jails, the more cleaning up that is done, the worse this stat will look.

    abandoning the neighbourhood to the criminals will make this stat look very good.

    be careful what you measure.

  5. Perhaps a Neutron Bomb when expenditure reached a certain amount?
    Puts a whole new meaning into 'clleaning up the neighbourhood'

  6. Trouble with 'cleaning up' is, you might be able to put a dent in a couple of gangs but after the first half hour things'll start to look like Chechnya when all the rest come out of the woodwork to push back.

    And in Glorious America, you can't get away with just hosing down the buildings with a Shilka and going home.

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