Iowa scores lowest in the nation in policing and corrections spending

(The Center Square) – Iowa scored lowest in the nation on a MoneyGeek review of policing and corrections spending, based on 2019 data.

The score combines per capita spend on police and corrections at the state level and police and corrections spend as a percentage of a state’s total spending.

Iowa ranked 48th and 51st, respectively, of 50 states and Washington, D.C, MoneyGeek Sr. Director of Data Analytics/Business Intelligence Greg Hamlin told The Center Square in an emailed statement.

Policing and corrections per capita spending in 2019 was $418, which was 3.52% of total state spending. Total spending on policing and corrections was $1.319 billion. Corrections spending was 53% of policing.

Policing per capita spending in Iowa was $273 ($861 million in expenditures). Policing was 2.30% of total state spending.

Iowa spent the smallest percentage (1.22%) of its state budget out of the 50 states on corrections in 2019, the report said. The state’s corrections expenditures were $458 million and $145 per capita that year.

Wisconsin (17th) and Illinois (16th) had the highest rankings overall among Iowa’s neighbors, while North Dakota (44th) had the lowest ranking, after Iowa.

MoneyGeek found that Blue states, where the Democratic candidate won three of the past five presidential elections, spent 38% more on policing and corrections than Red states did in 2019. Red states (5.3%) spent a tenth of a percent more of their total budget on policing compared with Blue states (5.2%).

“These expenditures mean less money for schools, for libraries, for parks, you name it,” Fordham Law School Professor and Center on Race, Law, and Justice Director Bennett Capers said. “More importantly, they mean less money for things that could actually reduce crime, such as more affordable housing, job creation, and mental health treatment.”

Hamlin said the 2019 data is the latest standardized state data available from the U.S. Census.

“Future versions of our study will take into account budget changes for a given year,” he said.

The Iowa Department of Corrections requested $386,604,832 per year for fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023. Gov. Kim Reynolds recommended $392,543,159 for each year’s budget, the Iowa Budget Report for 2022-2023 said. The Department of Public Safety requested $110,139,167 per year for fiscal year 2022 and fiscal year 2023 while Reynolds recommended $115 million for fiscal year 2022 and $114.6 million for fiscal year 2023.

Legislators approved a $407.7 million budget for the Department of Corrections for fiscal year 2022, which is a $20.5 million increase over the estimated fiscal year 2021 budget. The largest increase in dollars, $10.1 million, went to department-wide duties, a new appropriation for increased salary and operations costs for the department.

The Department of Public Safety received a budget for fiscal year 2022 of $113.3 million, which is a $10.6 million increase over the estimated fiscal year 2021 budget. The biggest increase for the department’s budget was $4.1 million. The addition of this money and 25 full-time positions covers costs including those for implementing the Hemp Public and Consumer Safety Act, clearing backlogged cases, and transforming the Cyber Crime Unit into a Cyber Bureau.

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