Cost Matters: Application and advancement of economic methods to inform policy choice in criminology
Bierie, David Miles
MacKenzie, Doris L
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This project develops and applies a cost-benefit analytic framework to evaluate a specific policy option facing the state of Maryland: To operate an early release program for adult inmates within a therapeutic boot camp facility, or a traditional prison that also emphasizes treatment. Drawing on a randomized experiment in which inmates were assigned to serve six-month terms at one of the two facilities, the study focuses on costs of administering programs and costs of recidivism during the observed 1 - 4 years after release. The data demonstrate the boot camp costs less to operate than the comparison site, and also generates significant reductions in the 'harm' incurred through recidivism. Thus, the data suggest the boot camp option generates a greater net social value for the state and community. These findings are robust to variation in assumptions and computational techniques, both standard to the cost-benefit literature as well as new approaches introduced in this dissertation.