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|from the INCARCERATION TRENDS project|
The costs and benefits of criminal justice policies and activities affect everyone. Understanding what goes into the costs of operating jails, prisons, probation and parole, courts, law enforcement agencies, treatment programs, and other segments of the criminal justice system is important for taxpayers, politicians, practitioners, and society as a whole.
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 Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice 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.
From February 2010 through March 2013, Vera’s Family Justice Program partnered with the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) on the Families as Partners project. The work sought to promote better outcomes for incarcerated youth by helping staff draw on youth’s families as a source of material and emotional support, encouraging visits and correspondence between youth and their families, and increasing family involvement in youth’s treatment and reentry plans. DYS is the first agency to implement Vera’s Juvenile Relational Inquiry Tool, which helps staff identify youth’s family and social support. The research component of the project looked at associations between family support and outcomes for youth during their incarceration. This brief summarizes the findings.
As state and local budgets have become increasingly strained in recent years, interest in using cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in criminal justice policymaking and planning has grown. Although reliable information on costs and benefits can help guide budget officials, policymakers, and legislators, most jurisdictions have not been able to create a sustained capacity to either conduct cost-benefit studies or use their results. The Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank, a project of Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, convened a roundtable discussion to examine the factors that might help agencies draw on CBA in a lasting, meaningful way. In the daylong meeting, people from state policy entities and nonprofit organizations, along with elected officials from four states, discussed strategies for building CBA capacity. This publication covers three areas to consider as part of that objective: organizations, staff, and making CBA part of ongoing processes.
Vera Director Michael Jacobson and Professor Ernest Drucker discuss the impact of 40 years of domestic drug policy on U.S. incarceration rates. Dr. Drucker is professor emeritus in the Department of Family and Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. His most recent book is A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America.
This podcast is part of the Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
Demonstrating that a program accomplishes its stated goals is increasingly important for social service organizations—funders and clients want to see the evidence of successful outcomes. Although a full-scale evaluation can be a costly and overwhelming goal, adopting the information-gathering and self-reflective approaches that lead up to an evaluation can strengthen an agency’s focus and procedural consistency. As part of the MacArthur Foundation Models for Change initiative, the Vera Institute of Justice created this guide, which describes the process that assesses whether a program qualifies as evidence based—which often determines an organization’s funding and the growth of its client pool—and explains how programs can prepare to be evaluated.
When Delaware Governor Jack Markell convened the Justice Reinvestment Task Force in the summer of 2011, the state was facing a high violent crime rate, crowded prisons, and budget shortfalls. By the time he signed the Justice Reinvestment Act (Senate Bill 226) in August 2012, Delaware had joined a growing number of states committed to instituting evidence-based practices shown to reduce recidivism, increase public safety and contain corrections costs. This brief examines the findings and recommendations of the task force as well as the key provisions of the resulting legislation. Delaware’s justice reinvestment efforts have been supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance with technical assistance provided by the Center for Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice.
Children with disabilities are three times more likely than children without them to be victims of sexual abuse, and the likelihood is even higher for children with intellectual or mental health disabilities. These children face many challenges in reporting the abuse and receiving vital services designed to meet their needs. Without receiving support, these children suffer long-term aftereffects, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as an increased risk of victimization in adulthood. Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women in 2012 to examine the prevalence of this abuse and existing responses and to recommend next steps for a national strategy to respond to this epidemic. This issues brief summarizes the study, its findings, and its recommendations.
Professor Anthony A. Braga talks with Vera Director Michael Jacobson about “focused deterrence strategies”—policing frameworks that target a specified crime problem within a high-crime-intensity area—to prevent gang violence and group-involved violence generally. Such strategies were incorporated into “Operation Ceasefire” in response to the 1980’s crack epidemic in Boston, which lead to significant reductions in youth homicides and nonfatal serious violence.
Anthony A. Braga is The Don M. Gottfredson Professor of Evidence-Based Criminology in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University and a Senior Research Fellow in the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
This podcast is part of Vera’s 2012 Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series.
This is Part 1 of a training that explains how to conduct a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in justice policy. The training is led by economist Michael Wilson, who worked with the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and is former director of the state's Statistical Analysis Center. Part 1 provides a detailed overview of CBA in criminal justice; explains the economics of incarceration; discusses cost estimates, probabilities of criminal justice resource use, and sentencing distributions; and defines effect size.
This policy brief contributes to the urgent national conversation about violence against children, and provides three perspectives from Vera experts on school safety, mental illness, and the delivery of mental health services. The perspectives draw on Vera’s work with government partners in each of these areas to develop and implement ways of enhancing the safety, effectiveness, and fairness of systems. They offer recommendations on placing police in schools, considering mental health care as a public health issue, and providing mental health care service providers with the knowledge needed to prevent violence. Vera released the brief at a Congressional staff briefing in Washington, DC on February 12, 2013.