The Costs of Not Using Cost-Benefit Analysis with Crime and Justice Policy
|January 16, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Budget, Policy, Research||
Utilization of economic analysis to examine public policy and system operations just makes good sense, especially in this time of budget cuts, freezes and expectations for programs to do more with less. Regardless of some of the rhetoric out there, I doubt that waste and overspending is favored by anyone. The expectation that organizations, whether they serve vulnerable populations or protect the community at large, will make sound fiscal choices is more than fair. It only follows then that decision-making at the policy level is informed and supported by economic analyses. After all, the well-being and safety of an individual or a community is not necessarily best served by the most costly methods.
A brief from the Institute of Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law, sets out an impressive argument for an evidence-based approach to what is, after Medicaid/Medicare and social security, considered a third rail in politics – criminal justice policy. In Balanced Justice: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Criminal Justice Policy, Jennifer Rosenberg suggests that an economic analysis of current crime control and corrections policies versus alternative approaches proven to operate more effectively and lower costs would:
- align with the trend in funder demand for evidence-based programs;
- respond to the current movements in favor of empiricism and transparency as opposed to emotion-based messaging and political favoritism;
- answer the call for lower and smarter spending in this time of state budget shortfalls.
The brief, which details the use of economic analysis in justice policy and examples of states that have successfully adopted a cost-benefit analysis approach as part of their criminal justice planning and policy process, is available for download at the Institute of Policy Integrity website.