How do we decide how to allocate criminal justice resources in a way that minimizes the social harms from both crime and policy efforts to control crime? How, for that matter, do we decide how much to spend on the criminal justice system and crime control generally, versus other pressing needs? These questions are at the heart of benefit-cost analysis.
Benefit-cost analyses begin with the crucial and often under-appreciated first step of successfully identifying the impact of a policy or program. Jens Ludwig and Roseanna Ander will explain the different options for identifying policy and program impacts, and discuss the challenges of attempts to monetize costs and benefits. For example, some of the most important costs and benefits of crime control efforts come from intangible aspects of well-being for which dollar values are not easily attached.