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JEET Resources


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State and local governments

Annual expenditure data in the Justice Expenditure and Employment Tool (JEET) are collected through the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances. Finance statistics for states, large counties, and cities comprise three data collection modes: mail canvass, Internet collection, and central collection from state sources. Collection methods vary by state and type of government.

Reviews of government account records provide data for most state government agencies and the 48 largest and most complex county and municipal governments. Data for local governments in about 27 states are consolidated and submitted by state agencies (central collections), usually as electronic transmissions or mutually developed questionnaires. Each of these central collection arrangements is unique, conforming to both the Census Bureau and the local government’s requirements.

Data for other state-level entities, such as state institutions, commissions, component units, public authorities, and other state-level dependent government organizations, are obtained from financial records of those individual entities. Census Bureau employees then compile statistics on state government indebtedness, cash and security holdings from state governments’ Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs), and financial statements of their dependent entities.

Data for the remaining local governments are obtained via mail questionnaires sent directly to county, municipal, township, special district, and school district governments. In some cases, data from central collections and mail canvass procedures are incomplete or require follow up. If Census Bureau analysts are unable to obtain corrected data from original sources, they attempt to obtain data from CAFRs.

Annual employment data in the JEET are collected through the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll (ASPEP). Forty-four of the state governments provide data from central payroll records for all or most of their agencies and institutions. Data for the remaining agencies and institutions for state governments are obtained by mail canvass questionnaires. Local governments are also canvassed using a mail questionnaire. All respondents who received the mail questionnaire have the option of completing the survey with a web-based survey instrument developed for reporting data.

State governments, large county governments that have a population of 500,000 or more, and large city governments that have a population of 200,000 are all included with certainty as part of the annual surveys of finance and employment. These types of government represent a complete enumeration; therefore, there is no associated sampling variability with these government types. In years in which a full quinquennial Census of Governments is conducted (years ending in “2” and “7”), there is also no sampling variability as it is a complete enumeration of all state and local governments. The Census of Governments acts as the frame from which local governments are sampled for each survey. As mentioned previously, the samples consist of all large local general-purpose governments above a certain population threshold (certainty units), plus a sample of localities below the certainty level. Additional information about the methodology for the Annual Survey of State and Local Government Finances and the Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll can be accessed on the U.S. Census Bureau website for public sector data collections.

Estimates of expenditure and employment variables are generated for each justice function at the sampled level of local government. Because these are estimates, they are subject to sampling variability. At present, the JEET does not contain measures associated with the variability of the estimates, so caution should be used in interpreting any differences over time or across governments.

Federal government

The JEET does not currently display justice expenditure and employment data from the federal government level. However, users can access annual federal justice system statistics from the following sources: the Office of Management and Budget’s Budget of the United States, the Office of Personnel Management’s Fedscope dataset, and USASpending.gov.

Previous years’ federal government justice expenditure and employment data that were published under the prior series of downloadable sets of static .csv tables can be accessed here.

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Data users should exercise caution when comparing governments to each other. Differences among state and local governments in functional responsibilities, governmental structure, degree of urbanization, and population density may affect the comparability of expenditure and employment data. For example, some state governments directly administer certain activities that elsewhere are undertaken by local governments, with or without fiscal aid. There is also variation in the division of responsibilities that exist for counties and cities. As an example of the nuances of state and local justice system organization, there are six states (Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont) that operate a combined prison and jail correctional system. Therefore, these states will not have the distinction of corrections expenditures and employment across the state and local levels and, in general, will only report such outcomes at the state level.

The survey sample for the local governments was not specifically designed to produce data on their expenditure or employment activities. Thus, the sampling variability, or standard error, for the justice sectors is apt to be larger than for the major categories in the Census Bureau's annual surveys.

Expenditure and payroll amounts in the JEET are shown in nominal (not inflation-adjusted) dollars. These amounts are measured in the current dollar value of the given year. Given potential differences in the real (inflation-adjusted) dollar value across years, users should exercise caution when comparing different years of data. Comparisons of real dollars across years will allow users to more accurately assess how spending has varied relative to the value of other goods and services; using inflation-adjusted data is recommended when drawing conclusions about changes over time. There are several different methods for making inflation adjustments; BJS does not recommend a particular one.

In some cases, JEET data may differ from data in the Census Bureau's annual finance and employment surveys. This is due to the more extensive review procedures used to produce these estimates, necessary refinements of data, and definition differences. The estimates produced for the “municipalities” level in the JEET combine two separate Census Bureau government classifications: municipalities and townships. Therefore, these estimates may not be the same as those in Census Bureau tables and publications.

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Justice system functions

Corrections—The government function involving the confinement and rehabilitation of adults and juveniles convicted of offenses against the law; and the confinement of persons suspected of a crime and awaiting adjudication. Correctional institutions include any facility used for the confinement and correction of convicted adults; the confinement and correction of juveniles adjudicated delinquent or in need of supervision; and the detention of adults and juveniles accused of a crime and awaiting trial or a hearing. Data for temporary lockups and holding tanks that hold persons for less than 48 hours are categorized under police protection. Corrections expenditures include direct and intergovernmental expenditures on institutional activities at prisons and penitentiaries; reformatories; jails; houses of correction; other named correctional institutions, such as correctional farms, workhouses, industrial schools, and training schools; facilities exclusively for the confinement of the criminally insane; facilities for the examination, evaluation, classification, and assignment of inmates; and facilities for the confinement, treatment, and rehabilitation of persons with drug or alcohol use disorders (if the institution is administered by a correctional agency). Within the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts series, corrections expenditures are further subdivided into types of institutions and “other corrections,” which include noninstitutional correctional activities. Corrections expenditures classified as “other corrections” include amounts paid for parole boards and programs; pardon boards; nonresidential resettlement or halfway houses; probation activities and programs (even if administered by a court); correctional administration not directly connected to institutions; payments to another government for boarding prisoners; and other miscellaneous items with no discernable direct link to institutional care.

Judicial and legal—Includes all civil and criminal activities associated with courts, including prosecution and public defense. Court-related categories include civil and criminal functions of courts at all levels of legal jurisdiction; and limited jurisdiction activities associated with courts, such as law libraries, grand juries, petit juries, medical and social service activities (except probation, which is classified as corrections where separately identifiable), court reporters, judicial councils, bailiffs, registers of wills and similar probate functions, and (civil) court activities of sheriffs’ offices in some jurisdictions. Prosecution activities and employees in this category include attorneys general, district attorneys, state’s attorneys, and their named equivalents; corporation counsels, solicitors, and legal departments with different names, including those providing legal advice to chief executives and subordinate departmental officers, representation of the government in lawsuits, and criminal prosecutions; and investigative agencies having full arrest powers and attached to offices of attorneys general, district attorneys, state’s attorneys, or their named equivalents. Public defense activities include court-paid fees to individually retained counsel and court-appointed counsel; government contributions to private legal aid societies and bar association-sponsored programs; and expenditures on activities of an established public defender office or program.

Police protection—The function of enforcing the law, preserving order and traffic safety, and apprehending persons who violate the law. These activities can be performed by a police department, a sheriff’s department, or a special police force maintained by an agency that is not primarily responsible for law enforcement but has a police force to perform police protection activities in its specialized area (geographic or functional). Police protection expenditures include direct and intergovernmental expenditures on regular police services; police patrols and communications; crime prevention activities; temporary lockups and holding tanks; traffic safety and engineering (but not highway planning and engineering); vehicular inspection and licensing; buildings used exclusively for police purposes and their maintenance; medical examiners and coroners; law enforcement activities of sheriff’s offices; and (if employed by a policy agency) nonsworn school crossing guards, parking meter readers, and animal wardens. Police protection employees can be classified as either sworn (having arrest powers) or nonsworn (all others).

Total justice system—Includes all activities that fall within corrections, judicial and legal, and police protections functions.

Expenditures, employment, and payroll

Total expenditures—Includes all amounts of money paid out by a government during its fiscal year—net of recoveries and other adjustments—other than for retirement of debt, purchase of investment securities, extension of loans, and agency or private trust transactions. Expenditures include a government’s external payments and exclude amounts transferred to funds or agencies of the same government.

Direct expenditures—All expenditures excluding intergovernmental expenditures.

Direct current expenditures—Expenditures related to salaries, wages, fees, commissions, and the purchase of supplies, materials, and contractual services.

Capital outlays—Expenditures for construction (production or replacement of, and the making of additions or major structural alterations to, fixed works), equipment, and purchase of land and existing structures.

Intergovernmental expenditures—Amounts paid to other governments for the performance of specific functions or for general financial support. These include grants, shared taxes, contingent loans and advances, and any significant and identifiable amounts or reimbursements paid to other governments for the performance of general government services or activities (e.g., payments by one government to another for boarding prisoners). Excludes amounts paid to other governments for the purchase of commodities, property, or utility services; and for any tax levied as such on government facilities (e.g., local government payments to state-operated retirement systems on behalf of their employees; contributions to the federal government for old age and survivor benefits; and disability and health insurance). While intergovernmental expenditures are not shown in the JEET, they do impact total expenditures for governments and are thus defined here.

Employment—Refers to persons gainfully employed by and performing services for a government. State and local government employees include all persons paid for personal services performed, including persons paid from federally funded programs; paid elected or appointed officials; persons in a paid leave status; and persons paid on a per meeting, annual, semiannual, or quarterly basis. Unpaid officials, pensioners, persons whose work is performed on a fee basis, and contractors and their employees are excluded from the count of employees.

Full-time employees—Persons whose hours of work represented full-time employment in their employing government during the pay period that includes March 12th of the reference year.

Part-time employees—Persons who work less than the standard number of hours for full-time work in their employing government.

Payroll—Includes gross salaries, wages, fees, commissions, bonuses, and awards paid to employees during the 1-month (31-day) pay period that includes March 12. A reported payroll is converted to a payroll amount that would have been paid during a 31-day month by multiplying the reported payroll by an appropriate factor. For example, a 2-week payroll is multiplied by the ratio of 31/14; a 1-week payroll is multiplied by 31/7; and a twice-a-month payroll is multiplied by 2.

Calculated metrics

Within the JEET, there are options for expenditure, employment, or payroll amounts to be displayed as total values or as calculated metrics for each of the three topics. These are defined as follows:

Expenditure per capita—The expenditure per capita metric is calculated by dividing the expenditure amount by the population residing in the given geography (state, large county, large city) shown on the selected dashboard.

Employment per 10,000 residents—The employment per 10,000 residents metric is calculated by dividing the expenditure amount by the population residing in the given geography (state, large county, large city) shown on the selected dashboard and then multiplying by 10,000.

Average payroll—The average payroll metric is calculated by dividing the total March payroll amount by the number of total employees for a given individual unit or aggregated government level on the selected dashboard. In graphics where there is average payroll for full- and part-time employees, these values are calculated by dividing the full- or part-time March payroll amount by the number of full- or part-time employees for a given aggregated government level or an individual county or city government.

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