The Million Dollar Hood research team secured LAPD arrest and detention data via a California Public Records Act request. In response to that request, LAPD provided the Million Dollar Hoods research team with the following categories of information for every person arrested by a LAPD officer and detained for arraignment between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2015: name, gender, race, and home address as well as arrest date, arrest time, arrest location, booking date, booking time, arrest charge, release date, and release time. In total, LAPD conducted 531,330 arrests/detentions in these years.

There are several significant limitations to the data received by the team from the LAPD. First, the data does not include the date of release for 43% of the 531,330 arrests/detentions. Without release dates, we do not know how long those people spent within the LAPD detention system prior to release or transfer. The Million Dollar Hoods team repeatedly asked the LAPD for a complete data-set or a clarification as to why so many entries are missing release dates. We received several different answers, the last of which is that the LAPD does not capture release dates for persons who are “released from custody.”

Unable to secure more accurate data from LAPD, the Million Dollar Hoods research team chose to assume three days to be the total period of confinement for each of the arrests with missing release dates. Why three days? According to state policy, the LAPD cannot hold people more than 96 hours (excluding holidays) within its detention facilities. After 96 hours, a person must be arraigned and, depending upon the outcome of their arraignment proceeding, released or transferred to the Los Angeles County Jail.  According to the 57% of LAPD arrest data that includes both arrest and release dates, the average term of confinement within the LAPD detention system is 4.34 days but the median term of confinement is 2 days. Therefore, based upon an analysis of policy and data we decided 3 days of confinement to be a reasonable assumption and good-faith estimate for each of the arrests with missing release dates.

A second limitation of the LAPD data-set is that for the 57% of data with release dates, many entries are, most likely, incorrectly recorded. For example, 834 dates of release precede the arrest date. Another 14.7% (44,221) of the arrests included release dates that far exceed the 96-hour limit; some as far as hundreds of years in the future. For all arrests with release dates set either before the arrest date or more than ten days after arrest, we made the following assumptions:

    1. If release year is greater than 2016, then the release date is compared to the arrest date. If it is within 30 days, we assume the release year is the same as the arrest year. EXAMPLE: Arrest date: 2/20/2013; Release date: 2/22/2018; Corrected release date: 2/22/2013
    2. If release is before the arrest date, we assume total days in jail to be three.
    3. If release date is ten or more days after arrest, we re-set the total incarceration period to ten days.

A third limitation is that once persons are transferred into the L.A. County Jail system, their term of incarceration is no longer captured in the LAPD data. In other words, the LAPD data only includes the first few days of imprisonment for persons arrested by LAPD but later transferred into the county jail.  Therefore, the LAPD data only offers a peek at the total cost of incarceration for persons arrested by LAPD officers. In turn, the sums listed on the LAPD layer of the Million Dollar Hood maps are just minimum estimates for the cost of incarceration for persons arrested by LAPD officers. In many communities, the total cost is actually much higher.

And, finally, as with the LASD data, arrest charges are recorded in a multitude of ways. For example, California State Vehicle Code23152(A) (drunk driving) is recorded as follows in the LAPD data: 23152(A) VC, 23152AVC, 23152ACVC. California’s Health and Safety Code 11377 (Possession of Methamphetamine) is listed as follows: 11377H&S, 11377APC, 11377(A)HS, 11377HS, 11377(A)1HS, 11377 HS. And so on. We listed and ranked all charges as written in LAPD data.

Daily Bed Rate

To calculate the cost to incarcerate one person for one day in the LAPD detention system, the Million Dollar Hoods research team divided LAPD’s total detention budget for 2010 to 2015 by the total days of incarceration in these same years. The detention budget was obtained from the Los Angeles City Controller website.  Among the qualifications to this estimate is the fact that the LAPD detention budget combines people and things. That is, the LAPD detention budget includes the cost to house both confiscated goods and arrested persons but it excludes the cost of capital improvements.

Cost Calculation

In order to calculate the cost per person, we used the fiscal budget numbers from the following documents obtained from the LA Controller website:

Since the budget numbers from these documents are based on the fiscal year, we used one half of 2009/2010 FY budget (includes Jan-June 2010) and one half of 2015 FY budget (includes July – Dec. 2015):

One half of 2009/2010  $ 41,899,231
2010/11  $ 90,741,291
2011/12  $ 94,989,987
2012/13  $ 99,454,518
2013/14  $ 105,790,160
2014/15  $ 133,372,639
One half of 2015/16  $ 66,563,056
SUM of 2010 to 2015  $ 741,273,168

We then took the sum of the detention value and divided it by the total number of days incarcerated to find the average cost of detention per person per day.

Total days incarcerated 2010-2015 1,320,405
Total cost LAPD 2010-2015  $ 632,810,882
Average cost per day  $ 479

Finally, to calculate the cost for jailing an individual we multiplied the average cost of detention with an individual’s jail duration.