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Projects: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Programs for Court-Involved Youth in New York

With assistance from the Center on Youth Justice, Vera's Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit conducted a cost-benefit analysis of programs for court-involved youth to help New York State policymakers identify cost-effective alternatives to juvenile incarceration.

This cost-benefit analysis of alternatives to juvenile incarceration included a broad range of community-based programs for court-involved youth, including Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy, and teen courts. To conduct the analysis, researchers applied the well-regarded Washington State Institute for Public Policy methodology and model for conducting cost-benefit analyses, while factoring in New York City and State-specific data on cost structures, policies, and practices. The findings of this analysis show that some programs can significantly reduce crime rates, improve outcomes for youth, and also save taxpayers and victims hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why This Project MattersPolicymakers in New York State are currently examining ways to reduce the use of placement through the expansion of community-based programs for court-involved youth. In 2008, Governor David A. Paterson established the Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, which was charged with creating a blueprint to strengthen alternatives to institutional placement for young offenders, improving conditions within placement facilities, enhancing reentry programming, and addressing the disproportionate number of minority youth in the system. As state and local officials weigh various alternatives, they need to consider the cost-effectiveness of each option, particularly given the current economic downturn. This cost-benefit analysis provides much-needed information to help policymakers identify programs that can reduce placements in juvenile facilities, lower recidivism rates among court-involved youth, and cut costs associated with operating the justice system.For more information about cost-benefit analysis, contact Tina Chiu.

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