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Cost-Benefit Analyses for Juvenile Justice: A Guide and Examples


Why Cost-Benefit Analyses Are Useful in Juvenile Justice Reform

Most advocates understand that the cost of early investment in youth through intervention and prevention will reap large benefits to society. Likewise, investment in a therapeutic model versus a punitive model for court-involved youth reduces recidivism, increases potential productivity, and returns many-fold the initial cost of treatment. 

Policy- and decision-makers often want concrete examples of this future benefit. Cost-benefit analyses -- a process by which one weighs expected costs against expected benefits to determine the cost and benefits of a course of action -- are excellent examples to share with decision-makers.

Help Us Build Our Collection

The Fiscal Policy Center is collecting and cataloguing cost-benefit analyses for NJJN members. Check back as more are added. Please email info@njjn.org  if you know of a cost-benefit analysis not included here.


Two Brief Guides to Cost-Benefit Analysis

  • "Cost-Benefit Analysis for Juvenile Justice Programs" - A useful brief guide from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Explains how a cost-benefit analysis differs from a program evaluation, and describes what should and should not be in one.   


Examples of Cost-Benefit Analyses in the Juvenile Justice System

  • "The Bridge Project Cost-Benefit Analysis" - This report analyzes the economic costs associated with juvenile offenses, to determine the cost-avoidance benefits associated with The Bridge Project of YMCA Victoria, in Victoria, Australia, which provides work placement and job training.