For decades, conventional wisdom has said that federal entitlement programs are the third rail of national politics. Any politician advocating reductions would be penalized at the election booth.
Many vital entitlement programs like the Social Security disability program are nearly broke, but no one discusses how to reform them to make them sustainable. Similarly, at the local level, spending on police has put massive pressure on budgets. But it would be political suicide for a politician to advocate reform.
Violent and property crime rates have dropped in America, but spending on police has soared since the 1990’s. According to a 2012 Justice Policy Institute report, the declining violent crime and property arrests have been replaced with drug arrests:
The Justice Policy Institute report breaks it down further:
Although crime rates are at the lowest they have been in over 30 years, the number of arrests has declined only slightly between 2009 and 2010 and the U.S. still spends more than $100 billion on police every year. This money goes to fund 714,921 sworn police officers and an increasing number of militarized police units.
The $100 billion of annual spending on police has lead America to have the highest incarceration rate in the world. As of 2009, the incarceration rate was 743 per 100,000 of population (0.743 percent). While the United States represents about 5 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. Large increases in police spending have propelled the incarceration rate (Justice Policy Institute report):