The Adult Drug Court Research-to-Practice Initiative (R2P)—a project of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Justice Programs Office of the School of Public Affairs at American University—recently conducted the webinar “Drug Court Cost-Efficiency Analysis: Methods and Findings.”
The online panel discussion, moderated by Fred L. Cheesman II, principal court research consultant at NCSC, covers how to conduct drug court cost-efficiency analysis—including guidance on marginal costs, transactional costs, and monetizing drug-court outcomes—as well as what the current cost-effectiveness research tells us about adult drug courts.
May is National Drug Court Month, and throughout the United States, events, public service campaigns, and other activities are under way, focusing on what drug courts are and what they do. This year’s theme is “Drug Courts: A Proven Budget Solution.”
If you’re looking for general resources about drug courts, the National Institute of Justice, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention recently revised their fact sheet.
Drug courts, policing, and pretrial detention, along with costs, costs, and even more thoughts on costs, were our special topics in 2011.
- Drug courts
- CBKB roundtable on cost-benefit analysis and cost effective policing
- By the numbers: A quick look at the costs and benefits of more police
- Targeting resources and reducing crime through hot-spots policing
- More affordable policing
- Managing policing costs by increasing legitimacy
- Guest blog: The costs and consequences of more policing
- Pretrial detention
- Economics of pre-trial release: Current research and future directions
- Assessing the cost and benefits of pretrial service programs
- Resources for conducting CBA’s of pretrial detention and release options
- Guest blog: A reflection on the costs and outcomes of the Jefferson County Bail Project
- Guest blog: Investing in pretrial service programs and the need for CBA
Since beginning in Miami more than 20 years ago, drug courts have grown in number, with nearly 2,600 courts in operation today in the United States and its territories. Cost-benefit studies, including the Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation featured on our blog earlier this month, tell us that, on average, the benefits of drug courts outweigh the costs, but some participants generate far greater benefits than others.
John Roman, PhD, is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where his research focuses on evaluations of innovative crime control policies and justice programs. Roman is a co-author of the Multisite Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE), a study funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to examine the impact of adult drug courts and whether there are cost savings attributable to drug court programs.
Cost-benefit literature cites two ways of calculating program costs: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down approaches take the total cost of a program and divide by the number of program participants resulting in an average cost per participant. Bottom-up approaches take the price of each resource and multiply by the quantity of resources used, giving you an individual cost per participant.
These selected resources point you to research on drug courts, and tell you what to consider when conducting a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of a drug court program. They provide a helpful introduction whether you’re reading or planning a drug court CBA.
1. Collecting information
With the release of the Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) in June, we know more than ever about the costs and benefits of the more than 2,500 drug courts in operation in the United States today. Cost-benefit studies tell us that drug courts yield net benefits, but there are concerns about whether drug courts are an appropriate response to substance abuse.