This is a data rich resource for our discussions about priorities, public safety, community health, and the ways in which budgets serve as moral documents. The authors of this study and project explain:
“If ‘money talks,’ then budgets tell a story about a community’s investment priorities. At a time of renewed interest in budget priorities, there is a need for a holistic approach that moves beyond a myopic focus on policing. Law enforcement functions as the primary, but not the only gateway into an expansive system of punishment and control that includes prosecutors, courts, jails/prisons, community supervision, and other elements.
The Carceral Resource Index (CRI) is designed to measure a government’s fiscal commitment to carceral systems. This statistical coefficient contrasts investments in systems of punishment and control relative to spending on health and supportive services that prevent criminal justice involvement. As inputs, CRI captures government budgetary outlays in three categories: 1. Carceral (police, courts, prosecutors, corrections, community supervision); 2. Health (health and human services, public health, parks and recreation); and 3. Social Support (housing assistance, employment assistance, civic and community engagement, arts and culture). Actual composition of budget outlays in each CRI category will vary by local government design. Expenditures that do not fall squarely into these three categories are excluded.”
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They also offer to do analyses of city budgets via this form: