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Cost effectiveness

“The federal prison population has risen dramatically over the past few decades, as more people are sentenced to prison and for longer terms. The result? Dangerously overcrowded facilities and an increasing expense to taxpayers. In [this] new Urban Institute report, the authors project the population and cost savings impact of a variety of strategies designed to reduce the inmate population without compromising public safety. They find that the most effective approach is a combination of strategies, including early release for current prisoners and reducing the length of stay for future offenders, particularly those convicted of drug trafficking.” Sections of this publication following an executive summary include: introduction to the impact of federal prison growth; understanding the federal prison population and drivers of growth—the main drivers being who goes to prison and for how long; policy options to ease growth and reduce costs—front-end changes and back-end changes; and conclusion.

Stemming the Tide Cover

The development and implementation of an analytical tool that helps states determine which evidence-based practices are most cost effective in preventing crime and lowering correctional costs. “The project’s overall goal is to use the best information available to identify sentencing and corrections policies that can help states protect public safety and control taxpayer costs. To accomplish this goal, we have constructed a benefit-cost “investment” model that estimates crime and fiscal outcomes of different combinations of public policies” (p. 1). Sections of this report that follow a summary include: background; project element 1—development of the sentencing tool; project element 2—application of the tool to Washington’s policy process; and project element 3—software development and next steps.

WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Tool for States: Examining Policy Options in Sentencing and Corrections Cover

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