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Cost effectiveness

"Any economic study of a justice-related investment needs to use the right cost information in its calculations. The type of cost used makes a difference in the accuracy of a study’s findings, as well as its relevance for policymaking, budgeting, and practice. Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit has published this guide to help technical users and general readers understand marginal cost—the amount of change in total cost when a unit of output changes." “This guide [in particular] instructs policy analysts how to calculate a particular kind of taxpayer costs called marginal costs for use in CBAs (cost-benefit analyses) of criminal justice programs and policies … A cost-benefit analysis aims to measure the net benefit to society, but this guide covers only costs to taxpayers and not societal costs of crime, which include fear of crime, avoidance costs, and emotional and physical harm to victims” (p. 4). Sections cover: introduction; what marginal costs are—types of government costs, short-run and long-run marginal costs, and taxpayer benefits versus taxpayer savings; how to calculate marginal costs—methods, and data collection; examples in the justice system—prisons and jails, probation and parole, courts, law enforcement, and programs; recommendations for analysts and justice agencies; resources for methods and data.

A Guide to Calculating Cover

Do you need a quick introduction to cost-benefit (CBA) analysis? Then this white paper is for you. “Cost-benefit analysis is an economic assessment tool that compares the costs and benefits of policies and programs for the time they produce their impacts. The hallmark of CBA is that costs and benefits are both expressed in monetary terms so that they can be directly compared. CBA supplies policymakers with information to weigh the pros and cons of alternative investments and enables them to identify options that are cost-effective and will have the greatest net social benefit. Because benefits are always expressed in dollar terms, CBA also enables decision makers to compare policies and programs that have different purposes and outcomes. Although CBA is a well-established economic method, it has not been widely used in criminal justice … This report offers guidance on important conceptual and practical issues surrounding the use of CBA to inform justice policymaking” (p. 1). Five sections are contained in this publication: perspectives of taxpayers, crime victims, offenders, the rest of society, and whose perspectives to include in a CBA; the evaluation component of CBA—predicting or measuring program impacts (i.e., non-experimental, experimental, quasi-experimental designs, and meta-analysis); valuing the costs and impacts of justice policies and programs; dealing with uncertainty in impacts—sensitivity, partial sensitivity, best-case and worse-cast, break-even, and Monte Carlo analyses; and making CBAs clearer and more accessible—general recommendations, documentation, and reporting results.

Advancing the Quality Cover

This analysis covers supervision compliance outcomes of quick dips, two or three day periods of jail confinement in response to probation non-compliance. The purpose of quick dips, results, and implication are presented. Offenders who received quick dips were more likely to have positive supervision outcomes, less revocations in the follow-up period, and less absconding than the comparison group. Overall, quick dips are an effective quick and certain response to offender non-compliance.

Analysis Summary Short Term Cover

“Interest in using cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to help in criminal justice policymaking and planning has grown in recent years as state and local budgets have become increasingly strained. Most jurisdictions, however, have not been able to create a sustained capacity to produce and use CBA in decision making and budgeting. The Vera Institute of Justice organized a roundtable discussion to examine what factors might help jurisdictions build lasting capacity to use and perform CBA … The discussion highlighted the need for expertise in conducting cost-benefit studies. It also highlighted the need for trusted, credible organizations that can house this expertise. And participants talked about structures and processes that would help bring cost-benefit information to policymakers and integrate CBA as part of decision making” (p. 1). Topics covered include: organizations that can house CBA capacity—credibility, newly established organizations, location, and administration and funding (or covering your costs); staffing—advertising positions and searching for staff, characteristics of good staff, and other ways to staff; and making CBA part of the process—the importance of integrating CBA, CBA and the budgeting barrier, forecasts and feedback, putting your money where your mouth is, and other activities.

Building Cost Benefit Analysis Cover

"This Training Resource Package recommends several cost-effective methods of providing in-service training for existing staff (p.3)." Sections of this document include: theme--if it meets all the requirements of "Defendable Training," it is training; executive summary; introduction; needs; training delivery options--in-service field training, shift overlap training delivery sessions, experiential training, shift scenario reviews, staff independent studies programs, training presentations during staff meetings, and other in-service training methods (e.g., correspondence courses, ride-alongs, videos, e-learning, satellite downlink, training consortium, and classroom training); and summary.

Cost Effective In-Service Training Alternatives for Small Jails Cover

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).

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Criminal Justice Reforms Cover

"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-Benefit Analysis: A Guide for Drug Courts and Other Criminal Justice Programs Cover

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.

Criminal Justice Uniform Cost Report: Fiscal Years 2010 to 2012 Cover

"Right now, taxpayers spend hundreds of dollars a day—in some places, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year—to confine a young person. Because every state (and local) juvenile justice system is different, it is a challenge to come up with a consistent way to describe these direct costs from state to state. These costs also change over time. To advance the understanding of the direct costs of confinement, JPI collected information from 47 states and jurisdictions in the summer and fall of 2014 on what they said they pay on a per-day or per-year basis to confine a young person in their most expensive confinement option. These 47 states or jurisdictions represent 94 percent of the population of the United States in 2013 and 87 percent of committed youth in secure placements in 2011" (p. 1). The average cost per day is $401; cost per 3 months is $36,074; cost per 6 months is $72,149; and cost per year is $146,302.

Factsheet the Tip of the Iceberg Cover

“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.

How to Calculate the Average Costs of Detaining a Youth Cover


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