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Cost-Benefit Analysis: A Guide for Drug Courts and Other Criminal Justice Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2014
32 pages
Publication Series

Intended for researchers, State agencies, policymakers, program managers, and other criminal justice stakeholders, this guide explains the features and objectives of a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), the contexts in which it is appropriate, the kind of information that should be collected to facilitate a CBA, and the meaning of CBA results.


This report is divided into three sections. The first section, "The Basics of Cost-Benefit Analysis," describes that foundations of CBA, the motivation for performing a CBA, what the CBA can and cannot provide, and the general principles for conducting a CBA regarding its conceptual basis and applied framework. In the guide's second section, "Cost-Benefit Analysis in Action: NIJ's MADCE," the CBA framework is applied using the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Multi-site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE). This NIJ-sponsored evaluation focused on 23 adult drug courts in 8 States. The comparison group was drawn from six comparison groups where drug court access was limited. A total of 1,787 individuals participated in the evaluation, with approximately two-thirds being in the treatment group. The third section of the guide, "NIJ's MADCE results," the findings are presented from the MADCE, with a discussion of how the results provide new and useful information about how the drug courts are being implemented and the impact they have had on the behaviors and attitudes of the offenders managed by the drug court. The information provided by MADCE would not have been available to guide the development of the drug courts without a CBA. 2 tables and 10 notes

Date Published: June 1, 2014