Data & Methods


Vera identified the prosecutor’s offices that serve the 50 largest U.S. cities and the largest cities in the states that are not home to one of the 50 largest cities. The five states that do not have county prosecutors—Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont—were excluded because the state governments operate unified prosecutorial systems. Washington DC’s prosecutorial office was excluded as it is responsible for both local and federal prosecution.

Vera researchers, with the support of volunteers from BNY Mellon and Goldman Sachs, obtained data for 58 counties by accessing each county’s online budget publications (53 counties) or by submitting a request to the county budget office (five counties: Ada County, ID; Cass County, ND; Hennepin County, MN; Polk County, IA; and Wayne County, MI).

Data is unavailable for prosecutor offices in 14 counties because the budget was not available online and the county did not respond to Vera’s request: Harris County, TX; Hillsborough County, NH; Essex County, NJ; Hinds County and El Paso County, CO; Fresno County, CA; Jefferson County, AL; Marion County, IN; Oklahoma County, OK; Sacramento County, CA; and Tulsa County, OK.


Vera researchers collected actual spending for fiscal year 2011 and the adopted budget and data for fiscal year 2021. In 17 counties (Bexar, TX; Cook, IL; Cumberland, ME; Davidson, TN; Washington, DC; Franklin, OH; Fulton, GA; Hillsborough, FL; Jackson, MO; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Orleans, LA; Salt Lake, UT; Sedgwick, KS; Tarrant, TX; Wayne, MI; and Yellowstone, MT), Vera collected proposed or recommended fiscal year 2021 budget data because the fiscal year 2021 adopted budget was not yet available online. King County, WA, represents fiscal year 2021-2022 data, as the county has a biennial budget. The Suffolk County District Attorney budget is included within Massachusetts’s state budget and is fixed by the state.

Prosecution spending comprises all the expenses related to the cost of criminal prosecution. The fiscal year 2011 data is adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U).

For more complete information on jail costs, see What Jails Cost: A Look at Spending in America’s Largest Cities.

For more complete information on policing costs, see What Policing Costs: A Look at Spending in America’s Biggest Cities.