Advancing the Quality of Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Programs

The Vera Institute of Justice’s Cost-Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice convened a working group of researchers and policymakers to help advance the use of rigorous cost-benefit analysis (CBA) in decisions about criminal justice programs and policies. Input from the working group helped shape this white paper, which describes and discusses the main methodological challenges to performing CBAs of justice investments. This technical paper is intended for anyone who conducts, plans to conduct, or wants to learn how to conduct a CBA of a justice-related policy or program. CBKB recently published a second white paper for a broader audience, Using Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Policymaking, which was also developed with guidance from the working group.

Download the paper.

CBKB is grateful for the assistance of our Cost-Benefit Methods Working Group in helping us shape this paper and its companion paper. These were the working-group members:

  • Mike Clark, chief economist, Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
  • Meredith Farrar-Owens, director, Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission
  • Lynn A. Karoly, senior economist, RAND Corporation
  • Mike Lawlor, under secretary, Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division, Connecticut State Office of Policy and Management
  • Lee Ann Labecki, former director, Office of Research, Evaluation, and Strategic Policy Development, Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency; now director of advisory services for KPMG
  • Kristin Misner, chief of staff, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, City of New York
  • John Roman, senior research associate, Urban Institute
  • Diane E. Shoop, manager, Outreach and Policy Support, Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing
  • Ronald Villa, deputy chief operating officer, City of San Diego; formerly chief financial officer for the San Diego Police Department
  • David L. Weimer, professor of public affairs and political science, La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison