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  Chapter Twelve:

  Capital Punishment
  Offenses of Prisoners
  Juvenile Offenders



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The cost and complexity of maintaining order increased sharply in the second half of the century.
Policing became a much more complex and expensive activity than it was in the past. As the chart indicates, per capita spending on police protection increased more than fivefold between 1950 and 1996. In part, this trend reflects technological improvements, such as the development of computer data banks and the adoption of more sophisticated weaponry and communications, and in part, it reflects the diversification of police functions. 

The federal government, for example, employed sworn gun-carrying law enforcement officers in more than a score of civilian agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the Secret Service; the U.S. Customs Service; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and other less well-known agencies. Most local communities in the United States were actively policed by more than one official force: state troopers, city and county police, sheriff’s deputies, town constables, and campus police, for example. 

The most consequential growth in policing costs, however, occurred not among official police but among private police and correctional officers. The Census Bureau does not distinguish clearly between armed private police, guards armed with nonlethal weapons, and unarmed guards, but all of these categories expanded rapidly and steadily after 1970. Private police of various types numbered more than 1 million in 1998, exceeding the number of official police (764,000). Retail stores, hotels, casinos, office buildings, residential developments, industrial plants, and even private individuals ceased to rely on the official police for routine protection and hired their own protective forces. The number of correctional officers increased even more rapidly. Between 1983 and 1998, their numbers doubled, from 146,000 to 299,000.

Chapter 12 chart 4

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

HS series H 1013; SA 1987, table 286; and SA 1999, table 504. For the most consequential growth, see SA 1997, table 645. For the number of correctional officers, see HCS, section 1.20. For the number of police officers, see Occupational Outlook Handbook at the Bureau of Labor Statistics web site at (accessed July 26, 2000).


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