Mapping Jail Spending in Los Angeles County


A new project from UCLA researchers, Million Dollar Hoods, is a website and mapping system that shows how much the LA County Sheriff’s Department spends to incarcerate residents in each neighborhood across the county.

“We made this choice because Los Angeles operates the largest jail system in the United States and we wanted to better understand the impact of L.A.’s jails and lockups,” said Kelly Lytle-Hernandez, UCLA professor of history and African-American Studies.

Users can sort map data on the site by race, gender, specific crime, and top cause for arrest.

Bright red hot-spots—South LA, Lancaster, Palmdale and others—reveal that LA County is spending the majority of its jail budget incarcerating people from a handful of concentrated areas.

Lancaster alone accounted for approximately $82,240,000 of the county’s jail budget between 2010-2015 (a total of close to $6 billion). The map also paints quite a racially disparate picture. Of those jailed Lancaster residents, 43% were black, 27% were Latino, and 30% were white. In 2010, the city’s population was 20.5% black, 38% Latino, and 49.6% white.

The Million Dollar Hoods researchers have also partnered with the LA County Commission on Human Relations to hold community meetings for people impacted by policing and incarceration to give personal testimony. The first public hearing was held on September 10, in the 5th Supervisorial District, which includes Lancaster and Palmdale. (You can watch videos from that meeting here.) There will be five more meetings—one in each of the other four districts, as well as a final meeting to allow law enforcement officials to respond to the messages and testimony given by members of the public.



This Sunday, at 10:00p.m., CNN will air an episode of “This Is Life with Lisa Ling” exploring the Los Angeles County jail system, which holds America’s largest jail population and even acts as the country’s largest mental health care provider.

The jail system is over capacity by nearly 2,700 inmates. At any time, there are between 17,000 and 20,000 inmates spread between seven jail facilities across the county. The daily population is nearly double that of the next largest jail system—New York City. And more than half of LA County’s inmates have not been convicted—they are sitting in jail awaiting trial.

Watch reporter Lisa Ling’s not-to-be-missed “This is Life” episode Sunday night on CNN to learn more about the complex and sprawling jail system.


  • Before claiming disparities in minority representation in the jail system, it is extremely dishonest to ignore the over-representation of the same minorities in reported crimes, particularly as suspects.

  • LATBG,
    Come on man. You’re 100% correct, BUT that’s not the point. If there’s a calculable, tangible and very specific reason for the disparity that doesn’t fit the narrative it’s ignored by the social justice warriors. Celeste would be tarred and feathered (metaphorically of course) in her social circles if she was to even offer an intellectually honest reason for the disparity.
    It’s racism. It’s been racism, it’s still racism, and when caucasians are no longer the majority in this country it will still be racism.
    You have the SJW’s rioting in Charlotte because a black cop shot a black man. During the riots, a black man shot another black man. It’s because of racism. Get it?
    The funny part (in a very sad way) is when the SJW’s claim that “We need to have open, honest discussions about the problem”. The second the conversation goes in ANY other direction than racism being at the core of any and all problems, the conversation turns ugly.
    You know it. I know it. Celeste knows it. Everybody knows it.

  • @1 and @2. Shame on you two for throwing reality in to the discussion. Like Larry Elder says, “A fact to a liberal is like kryptonite to Superman.”

  • we are using a selfish and myopic value overlay that yields a flawed analysis of the demographics from the L.A. County jail population.
    We blindly assume that arrest and incarceration is a wholly negative event which everyone prefers to avoid.
    This may hold true for a majority of the populace. However, for many in our society the opposite narrative holds true.
    Arrest and incarceration are the essential events of matriculation to adulthood, street credibility and respect.
    In jail is where all of the important networking is conducted. In jail is where one is confronted with the challenges and obstacles to maintain and survive. Jail is the opportunity to rise to dominance by stoicism and brutality.
    In some circles, self-worth and social standing is attained with the B.A.. the Masters Degree, the Phd., the internship, the academic scholarship.
    In other circles, the arrest record and time served in custodsy becomes the coveted curriculum vitae.
    In this case, comparing racial demographics of the jail population to demographics of the total adult population is missing the point.
    The population in Lancaster jail is 43% black while the general population of Lancaster is only 20$.
    Guess what? only a select subsection of the black population becomes the black jail population. the same holds true for latinos and whites.
    the same individuals cycle through the process of arrest, incarceration, release and eventually rearrest.
    if a person keeps going back to jail, maybe we should accept it as an indication thats where they want to be.

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