Million dollar blocks and the cost of incarceration

Posted to Maps  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Incarceration costs a lot of money. We know this, sort of. But how much really? Million Dollar Blocks, by Daniel Cooper and Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, estimates the cost in Chicago, down to the block level.

The map is based on data obtained by the Chicago Justice Project from the Cook County Circuit Court. It represents all adult convictions between the years of 2005-2009. For each conviction, we have data for what the offense was, the length of the sentence, and the offender’s residential address.

We derive dollar amounts from sentence lengths. Our cost assumption is that, on average, the Illinois Department of Corrections spends approximately $22,000 per year for each inmate. Life sentences are calculated based on average life expectancy.

As you might expect, a bulk of arrests occur in concentrated areas, hence the name of the project. Darker red means higher estimated costs.

Spending numbers appear in the bottom right corner when you mouse over blocks, but the map could use a legend to get a better sense of scale. It’d be especially helpful when you switch between all offenses and just drug-related ones. When you switch from the latter (the default view), which is a subset of the former, over to all offenses, the map becomes less red. But the spending is actually more.

Anyways, I hope they work on this more. It’s a good concept, and naturally, I’m wondering what it’s like in other places.

Favorites

Interactive: When Do Americans Leave For Work?

We don’t all start our work days at the same time, despite what morning rush hour might have you think.

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2011

I almost didn’t make a best-of list this year, but as I clicked through the year’s post, it was hard …

Who is Older and Younger than You

Here’s a chart to show you how long you have until you start to feel your age.

Shifting Incomes for American Jobs

For various occupations, the difference between the person who makes the most and the one who makes the least can be significant.