Special Report

25 American Cities Where Police Are Funded Better Than Health and Social Services


To determine the cities prioritizing police more than health and support services, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on municipal spending from the Health in Justice Action Lab of Northeastern University. The 50 largest U.S. cities by population were ranked based on the Health in Justice Action Lab’s 2020 Carceral Resource Index – a composite measure of the contrast between municipal expenditures on health and social support versus carceral systems. CRI values are normalized on a scale of -1 to 1, where a higher number indicates greater prioritization of health and support systems over carceral expenditures in the 2020 fiscal year, and vice versa. We then chose the 25 cities with the lowest CRI values.

Data on city spending by category in 2020 also came from the Health in Justice Action Lab. Carceral spending includes expenditure on police, sheriffs, courts, prosecutors, public defenders, jails and community supervision programs. Health and support spending includes health and human services, public health, parks and recreation, housing assistance, employment assistance, civic and community engagement, and arts and culture. Supplemental data on total population came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates.

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