If you work on policy, are new to the Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB) website, and wonder where you should start, we suggest the following materials:
- Types of Economic Analysis tool: This describes the four most common types of analysis, including cost-benefit analysis (CBA), and describes the circumstances that call for the use of each one.
- “Cost savings or cost avoidance?” Our most popular blog post to date explains this critical—and practical—distinction from a budgetary perspective.
- Three blog posts on myths about CBA:
- Decisions, Decisions: What Policymakers Need to Know About Cost-Benefit Analysis: This webinar is presented by Craig Prins, director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, and Sarah Galgano, a policy analyst with Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit. The webinar discusses how CBA can provide valuable information about the net benefits a policy or program may generate. The webinar also explains how the judgments and assumptions that go into an analysis may affect a study’s results.
- An Introduction to Cost-Benefit Analysis and Justice Policy for State Legislators: This webinar helps new and current legislators, legislative staff, and other policymakers learn about using CBA in criminal and juvenile justice. The presenters are Washington State Senator Karen Fraser and Tina Chiu, who is director of technical assistance for the Vera Institute of Justice and oversees its Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit.
- “Informing Justice Policy Decisions Through Cost-Benefit Analysis,” Part 1: This is the first segment of an interview with Steve Aos, now the director of the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP). He discusses reviewing evidence and determining what works; developing CBA models; and making recommendations to legislators, who often incorporate that information in public policy. (To watch Parts 2-7 of the interview, click on the YouTube icon from the link above.)
- Making Sense of the Bottom Line: A Guide to Reading Cost-Benefit Reports: Gary VanLandingham, director of the Pew Center on the States’ Results First project, and Joshua Rinaldi, policy analyst with Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit, explain how to extract the most important information from a cost-benefit study.
- A two-page CBKB Guide to Reading Cost-Benefit Reports.
- “Four Questions for Jens Ludwig”: In this guest blog post, Ludwig, an economist and the director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, talks about his work, the implications of CBA for crime policy in the United States and in international development, and research by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
Although three webinars are on this list, we don’t picture your first visit to the site lasting an entire workday. (We bet you didn’t plan on that, either.) Whenever we publish a webinar recording on cbkb.org, the accompanying blog post includes a summary of the content, the name and affiliation of any presenters, and a set of PowerPoint slides. Clicking through the blog posts and slides can give you a better idea of where you might want to dig in.