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.
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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.
- "Juvenile Justice Guide Book for Legislators: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Juvenile Justice Programs" - This section of the guide book, created by the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), is a high-level overview. Less detailed than the guide from OJJDP, this handout is appropriate for giving to legislators and other policy makers as a way of encouraging informed policy changes.
Examples of Cost-Benefit Analyses in the Juvenile Justice System
- Knowledge Brief: How Can We Know If Juvenile Justice Reforms Are Worth The Cost? - A 2011 policy brief, by the Models for Change Research Initiative, which provides a cost-benefit analysis of a set of reforms intended tomake juvenile detention more developmentally productive.
- "Cost-Benefit Analysis of Reclaiming Futures" - A 2010 report on the costs and benefits of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Reclaiming Futures national juvenile justice initiative.
- "The Comparative Costs and Benefits of Programs to Reduce Crime: Version 4.0" - The Washington State Institute of Public Policy’s (WSIPP) 2001 cost-benefit analysis of programs to reduce crime. Includes juvenile programming, beginning on page 17.
- "Benefits and Costs of Prevention and Early Intervention Programs for Youth: Technical Appendix" - This is the 2004 appendix to the Washington State Institute of Public Policy’s (WSIPP) cost-benefit analysis posted above, and contains the formulas used.
- "Evaluation of Ohio’s Reclaim Funded Programs, Community, Corrections Facilities, and DYS Facilities" - recidivism report on RECLAIM Ohio, from August 2005.
- "Evaluation of Ohio’s Reclaim Funded Programs, Community Correctional Facilities, and DYS Facilities: Cost-Benefit Analysis Supplemental Report" - A supplemental cost-benefit analysis of RECLAIM Ohio, from November 2005.
- "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.
- "Governor’s Crime Commission Juvenile Age Study: A Study of the Impact of Expanding the Jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention" - A 2009 cost-benefit analysis of raising the age at which youth are eligible for juvenile court. The full report is here.
- "Analysis of Costs and Participation for Selected Evidence-Based Programs in the Criminal Justice System" - A 2008 Oregon study that identifies the costs of juvenile programming and relies on the Washington State Institute of Public Policy report (see above) for the benefits of introducing evidence-based practices.