Vera announces creation of cost-benefit "knowledge bank": new national resource for cost-effective criminal justice planning

NEW YORK – The Vera Institute of Justice today announced the development of a national Knowledge Bank for Cost-Benefit Analysis in Criminal Justice to inform practitioners and policymakers about the budgetary impacts of criminal justice policy choices. The Knowledge Bank, a project of Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit (CBAU), will provide decision makers with tools to help incorporate cost-benefit analysis into policy development.

“Cost-benefit analysis is quickly becoming an integral part of how policymakers evaluate programs and policy initiatives,” said Mike Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice. “Governments are trying to improve outcomes while facing chronic budget pressures and limited resources. The Knowledge Bank will provide tools to do that, improving the return on investment that state and local governments receive from their justice system expenditures.”

The Knowledge Bank project is funded by an innovation grant awarded to Vera by the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice. Over the next 18 months, Vera will create a web site to act as an information clearinghouse and center of a community of practice, providing access to rigorous examinations of the benefits and costs of policy choices.

As part of the Knowledge Bank project, CBAU will also facilitate roundtable discussions on criminal justice and cost-benefit analysis with policymakers, practitioners, and cost-benefit experts; will develop a toolkit of cost-benefit analytical instruments; and will provide general education and training on cost-benefit analysis, including webinars and podcasts.

Vera established its Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit in response to the growing need for cost-benefit capacity in the criminal justice field. In addition to building the Knowledge Bank, CBAU performs cost-benefit analyses and other cost-related studies, provides assistance to jurisdictions conducting their own studies, and carries out research to advance the knowledge and application of cost-benefit analysis in the justice system. CBAU will release its first cost-benefit analysis report this fall, supported by a series of educational podcasts explaining Vera’s approach to cost-benefit analysis.

The Vera Institute of Justice is an independent, non-partisan, nonprofit center for justice policy and practice. Vera combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety.

Listen to a podcast about Vera's Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit.