"Justice policymakers must make tough choices with limited resources. To help weigh their options, decision makers are increasingly turning to cost-benefit analysis (CBA), an economic tool that compares the costs of programs or policies with the benefits they deliver. This emerging demand for justice CBA means that many researchers are being called upon to conduct these studies for the first time and are looking for resources to help them get started. A common misconception is that you can perform CBA by inputting data into a common set of formulas. In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all template. Each analysis must be tailored to the investment being studied. There is, however, a common CBA methodology, or series of steps, you must follow to produce cost-benefit results. The purpose of this toolkit is to guide justice analysts through these steps. It is not intended to be a comprehensive treatment of CBA methods" (p. 4). Sections cover: introduction; overview of cost-benefit analysis; before you get started; Step 1: Identify the investment’s potential impacts; Step 2: Quantify the investment’s impacts; Step 3: Determine marginal costs; Step 4: Calculate costs, benefits, and net present value; Step 5: Test the assumptions; Step 6: Report the results; and using CBA to inform policy and practice.
This article examines the major considerations to be taken when performing a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). This process is illustrated by showing how the costs and benefits are determined for the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation. Sections discuss: the market for crime; cost-benefit analysis in criminology--alternative explanations, or counterfactuals, whose benefits count, and variable estimates; the MADCE; what the MADCE impact evaluation found; measuring the costs and benefits of drug courts; adding up the costs and benefits; what the MADCE CBA found; and improving CBAs in criminology. “The CBA performed in the MADCE study demonstrates that criminal justice reforms can have tangible, positive benefits, including fewer crimes and more savings in victimization costs” (p. 6).
Those looking to increase the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 will find this report useful in getting their shareholders on board with the change. The North Carolina Youth Accountability Planning Task Force was tasked with “implementing a plan to transfer 16- and 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanor and low-level, non-violent felony offenses to the juvenile system, while keeping 16- and 17-year-olds who commit serious violent felonies in the adult criminal justice system” (p. iii). These sections come after an executive summary: background; cost-benefit methodology; summary of the cost-benefit analysis; costs—law enforcement, courts, juvenile justice operations costs, and juvenile justice capital costs; benefits—criminal justice, victims, and youth; and conclusion. It was determined that the change in age will result in net benefits of $52.3 million a year.
"As resource constraints have tightened, the role of researchers in informing evidence-based and cost-effective decisions about the use of funds, labor, materials and equipment — and even the skills of workers — has increased. We [the authors] believe research that can inform decisions about resource allocation will be a central focus of criminal justice research in the years to come, with cost-benefit analysis (CBA) among the key tools" (p. 3). This is required reading for those individuals tasked with determining what the social impact of a criminal justice program will be (whether a benefit or not). It must be stressed that a CBA estimates social benefits not fiscal savings. This report is comprised of three sections: the basics of cost-benefit analysis—what and why, considerations in valuing time, what CBA can and can't do, and the four steps of a CBA; cost-benefit analysis in action—NIJ's Multi-site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE); and results from the MADCE cost-benefit analysis.
Cost per day information for various adult and juvenile correctional populations is determined. Sections of this report include: introduction—reporting guidelines and highlights; Texas Department of Criminal Justice—overview, Correctional Institutions Division (state-operated facilities), Parole Division, and Community Justice Assistance Division; and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department—state services and facilities, and community juvenile justice. Appendixes provide: uniform cost project methods; program descriptions; and comparisons to other cost per day figures—national comparison.
The effect of work release facilities in Washington State on recidivism is assessed. This report is divided into three sections: evaluation of work release program; identification of facilities with the greatest effectiveness on recidivism; and examination of work release practices. While three of four studies show that work release reduces recidivism, more research is warranted for broader contemporary results.
"An extensive data analysis coupled with over 50 in-person interviews with local and state leaders led to the identification of key recommendations for reducing the number of people with behavioral health disorders cycling in and out of jail." Sections of this report include: background; summary of core challenges; funding for behavioral health treatment and services; "Franklin County, OH Criminal System Flow" chart; methodology; sources of data for the analysis chart; assessing behavioral health disorders and risk of recidivism in the jail population; measuring the population of homelessness; findings—more than half of all adults entering jail return within three years of release, information on risk and needs is not systematically collected and used to inform decision making, people who have behavioral health disorders stay longer in jail and return more frequently than those without behavioral health disorders, and many people with behavioral health disorders released from jail are not receiving the treatment and supports they need in the community; average length of stay in jail for people with behavioral health disorders chart; percentage of people with behavioral health disorders rebooked within three years of release chart; and eight recommendations.
“This toolkit demonstrates how to calculate the average costs of housing a youth in detention. There are numerous ways to calculate the cost of detention, and detention administrators across states and even within states may arrive at their costs through different methods. This toolkit will help readers understand what components are typically included in a detention cost estimate, why one would or would not choose to include these elements, and what additional costs and revenues could be incorporated in the calculation of costs to detain youth” (p. 1). What makes this toolkit an amazing resource is that it uses a case study to show you how to do a cost estimate. Sections of this publication cover: about this toolkit; how to use the toolkit; basic how-to; how to calculate the average costs of detaining a youth; and frequently asked questions. The process of calculating the cost entails: Step One—determine which agencies have the information you need; Step Two—locate budget information; Step Three—locate detention statistics on average daily population and average length of stay (LOS); and Step Four—do the math.
"Justice Reinvestment is a process used by a growing number of states to curb corrections costs, reduce offender recidivism and maintain public safety. The data-driven reforms have been bipartisan, cross-governmental and impactful. Policies aim to reduce spending on corrections and reinvest the savings in strategies that increase public safety and hold offenders accountable. Justice Reinvestment typically involves: Developing and adopting policies that manage existing resources and generate savings without compromising public safety; Reinvesting a portion of those savings in criminal justice and other community programs that further reduce recidivism and prevent crime; [and] Measuring the fiscal and criminal justice effects of these reforms and reinvestments to ensure that projected results and benefits are achieved. States also have applied a justice reinvestment process to develop juvenile justice policies that protect public safety, hold youth accountable and contain costs." This interactive map will take you to a wide range of information about those states that are engaged in justice reinvestment. It shows both adopted adult reforms or adopted adult and related juvenile reforms. Information provided includes legislation bill summaries, fiscal notes, Executive Orders, reports, and technical assistance provided by either the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts or by the Council of State Governments (CSG).
"This report summarizes the CSG Justice Center’s findings and describes the data-driven policy framework that was provided to state policymakers and the legislation that was ultimately enacted to address key issues in Hawaii. The 10 distinct policy options outlined in this report are organized around the 3 priorities that emerged from the analyses" (p. 1). Sections included report are: background; summary of challenges; justice reinvestment framework; projected outcomes; key findings—crime and arrest, pretrial, sentencing, corrections, and probation and post-release supervision; Objective 1—Increase efficiency; Objective 2—Reduce Recidivism; Objective 3—Ensure Accountability; understanding risk assessment; and the projected impact of the enacted legislation.