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Washington State Institute for Public Policy

Benefit-Cost Results

Since the 1990s, the Washington State legislature has directed WSIPP to identify “evidence-based” policies. The goal is to provide Washington policymakers and budget writers with a list of well-researched public policies that can, with a high degree of certainty, lead to better statewide outcomes coupled with a more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Research Approach. WSIPP has developed a three-step process to draw conclusions about what works and what does not to achieve particular outcomes of legislative interest. First, we systematically assess all high-quality studies from the United States and elsewhere to identify policy options that have been tested and found to achieve improvements in outcomes. Second, we determine how much it would cost Washington taxpayers to produce the results found in Step 1, and calculate how much it would be worth to people in Washington State to achieve the improved outcome. That is, in dollars and cents terms, we compare the benefits and costs of each policy option. It is important to note that the benefit-cost estimates pertain specifically to Washington State; results will vary from state to state. Third, we assess the risk in the estimates to determine the odds that a particular policy option will at least break even. ...show more

WSIPP acknowledges the MacArthur Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts that have helped fund some of the research reported on this page.

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For details on our benefit-cost methods, contact Stephanie Lee or download our technical documentation.

Latest Results. The tables on this webpage present our current findings for a variety of public policy topics. Items on these tables are updated periodically as new information becomes available. Interested readers can find more information by clicking each entry in the tables.

Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2017

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Current estimates replace old estimates. Numbers will change over time as a result of model inputs and monetization methods.

Adult Criminal Justice

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For questions on benefit-cost results relating to Adult Criminal Justice, contact Elizabeth Drake.
Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review
Total benefits
Taxpayer benefits
Non-taxpayer benefits
Costs
Benefits minus costs (net present value)
Benefit to cost ratio
Chance benefits will exceed costs
Offender Reentry Community Safety Program (for individuals with serious mental illness) Apr. 2012 $69,737 $23,841 $45,896 ($36,719) $33,017 $1.90 97 %
Circles of Support and Accountability Nov. 2016 $28,465 $6,921 $21,544 ($3,909) $24,557 $7.28 93 %
Correctional education (post-secondary education) Jul. 2016 $24,693 $6,729 $17,963 ($1,249) $23,444 $19.77 100 %
Employment counseling and job training (transitional reentry from incarceration into the community) Aug. 2016 $23,985 $6,704 $17,282 ($2,433) $21,552 $9.86 97 %
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (for persons convicted of drug offenses) Nov. 2016 $22,720 $6,758 $15,962 ($1,628) $21,091 $13.95 99 %
Vocational education in prison Jul. 2016 $17,894 $4,951 $12,944 ($1,494) $16,400 $11.98 97 %
Case management ("swift, certain, and fair") for drug-involved persons Nov. 2016 $15,041 $4,371 $10,670 $381 $15,422 n/a 100 %
Electronic monitoring (probation) Dec. 2014 $13,897 $3,931 $9,967 $1,138 $15,035 n/a 93 %
Mental health courts Oct. 2016 $17,451 $5,050 $12,401 ($3,104) $14,347 $5.62 96 %
Intensive supervision (surveillance and treatment) Dec. 2016 $13,170 $3,883 $9,286 ($813) $12,357 $16.21 100 %
Reentry courts Aug. 2016 $17,055 $5,189 $11,867 ($4,920) $12,136 $3.47 95 %
Inpatient or intensive outpatient drug treatment during incarceration Nov. 2016 $13,120 $3,660 $9,460 ($1,289) $11,832 $10.18 98 %
Therapeutic communities (in the community) for individuals with co-occurring disorders Nov. 2016 $16,487 $4,884 $11,603 ($5,090) $11,397 $3.24 86 %
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (for persons convicted of property offenses) Nov. 2016 $12,558 $3,832 $8,725 ($1,627) $10,931 $7.72 71 %
Correctional education (basic skills) Jul. 2016 $12,092 $3,380 $8,712 ($1,249) $10,843 $9.68 97 %
Outpatient or non-intensive drug treatment during incarceration Nov. 2016 $10,553 $2,906 $7,647 ($749) $9,804 $14.10 99 %
Outpatient or non-intensive drug treatment in the community Nov. 2016 $10,345 $3,086 $7,259 ($768) $9,576 $13.47 100 %
Electronic monitoring (parole) Dec. 2014 $8,214 $2,035 $6,179 $1,138 $9,352 n/a 100 %
"Swift, certain, and fair" supervision Jan. 2017 $9,161 $2,544 $6,617 $68 $9,229 n/a 87 %
Drug courts Aug. 2016 $13,915 $4,877 $9,038 ($4,922) $8,993 $2.83 100 %
Therapeutic communities (during incarceration) for individuals with substance use disorders Nov. 2016 $11,072 $2,962 $8,110 ($2,199) $8,873 $5.03 96 %
Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) Aug. 2016 $22,868 $8,149 $14,719 ($14,543) $8,325 $1.57 90 %
Risk Need and Responsivity supervision (for individuals classified as high- and moderate-risk) Dec. 2016 $9,534 $2,932 $6,602 ($1,372) $8,161 $6.95 98 %
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (for individuals classified as high- or moderate-risk) Dec. 2016 $8,818 $2,726 $6,092 ($1,394) $7,424 $6.33 100 %
Correctional industries in prison Jul. 2016 $6,208 $1,714 $4,494 ($485) $5,723 $12.80 100 %
Therapeutic communities (in the community) for individuals with substance use disorders Nov. 2016 $9,497 $3,043 $6,453 ($3,783) $5,714 $2.51 79 %
Housing assistance without services Aug. 2016 $7,595 $2,467 $5,128 ($2,002) $5,593 $3.79 92 %
Case management (not "swift, certain, and fair") for drug-involved persons Nov. 2016 $5,634 $1,508 $4,126 ($385) $5,249 $14.63 85 %
Work release Jul. 2016 $4,255 $1,064 $3,191 $503 $4,759 n/a 99 %
Police diversion for low-severity offenses (pre-arrest) Mar. 2017 $3,905 $1,111 $2,794 $556 $4,460 n/a 86 %
Day reporting centers Oct. 2016 $7,782 $2,811 $4,972 ($3,987) $3,796 $1.95 75 %
Employment counseling and job training in the community Aug. 2016 $4,191 $1,485 $2,706 ($1,965) $2,226 $2.13 73 %
Treatment in the community for individuals convicted of sex offenses Jan. 2017 $4,075 $1,199 $2,876 ($2,416) $1,659 $1.69 60 %
Treatment during incarceration for individuals convicted of sex offenses Jan. 2017 $5,924 $1,791 $4,133 ($4,570) $1,354 $1.30 61 %
Restorative justice conferencing Feb. 2017 $2,219 $850 $1,369 ($1,110) $1,109 $2.00 57 %
Intensive supervision (surveillance only) Dec. 2016 $395 $130 $264 ($107) $287 $3.68 53 %
Jail diversion for individuals with mental illness (post-arrest) Mar. 2017 ($814) ($422) ($392) $690 ($125) n/a 50 %
Employment counseling and job training with paid work experience in the community Aug. 2016 $4,958 $2,194 $2,764 ($5,377) ($419) $0.92 46 %
Sex offender registration and community notification Nov. 2016 ($1,807) ($369) ($1,438) ($350) ($2,157) ($5.16) 33 %
Inpatient or intensive outpatient drug treatment in the community Nov. 2016 ($1,346) ($124) ($1,222) ($889) ($2,235) ($1.51) 33 %
Life skills education Dec. 2016 ($1,742) ($311) ($1,431) ($1,147) ($2,889) ($1.52) 34 %
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) courts Aug. 2016 $4,429 $2,562 $1,867 ($7,837) ($3,408) $0.57 19 %
Domestic violence perpetrator treatment (Duluth-based model) Aug. 2014 ($2,051) ($382) ($1,669) ($1,449) ($3,500) ($1.42) 24 %
Violence reduction treatment Dec. 2016 ($528) $539 ($1,068) ($5,080) ($5,608) ($0.10) 29 %
Housing assistance with services Aug. 2016 $1,113 $1,981 ($868) ($11,555) ($10,442) $0.10 3 %
Community-based correctional facilities (halfway houses) Aug. 2016 ($5,994) ($480) ($5,513) ($8,379) ($14,372) ($0.72) 0 %
Police diversion for individuals with mental illness (pre-arrest) Mar. 2017 ($13,929) ($2,000) ($11,929) ($4,767) ($18,696) ($2.92) 1 %
Policy
Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review
Total benefits
Taxpayer benefits
Non-taxpayer benefits
Costs
Benefits minus costs (net present value)
Benefit to cost ratio
Chance benefits will exceed costs
For individuals classified as lower risk, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($4,455) ($862) ($3,593) $5,887 $1,432 n/a 68 %
For individuals classified as moderate risk, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($15,791) ($2,497) ($13,294) $5,888 ($9,903) n/a 8 %
For individuals classified as high risk, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($43,462) ($5,834) ($37,628) $5,885 ($37,577) n/a 0 %
Police (results per-officer)
Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review
Total benefits
Taxpayer benefits
Non-taxpayer benefits
Costs
Benefits minus costs (net present value)
Benefit to cost ratio
Chance benefits will exceed costs
Deploy one additional police officer with hot spots strategies Oct. 2013 $518,405 $66,942 $451,463 ($96,637) $421,768 $5.36 100 %
Deploy one additional police officer with statewide average practices Oct. 2013 $445,980 $57,627 $388,353 ($92,152) $353,828 $4.84 100 %
To view details of all Adult Criminal Justice programs in a single pdf, click here.

Other Adult Criminal Justice topics reviewed; benefit-cost results not yet available:

Program name
(click on the program name for more detail)
Date of last literature review Notes
Civil legal aid Mar. 2017 Click for meta-analytic results
Day fines Feb. 2017 Click for meta-analytic results
Deferred prosecution of DUI offenses Mar. 2017 Click for meta-analytic results
Dialectical behavior therapy Sep. 2015 Click for meta-analytic results
Domestic violence perpetrator treatment (Non-Duluth models) Aug. 2014 Click for meta-analytic results
Ignition interlock devices for alcohol-related offenses Mar. 2014 Click for meta-analytic results
Legal financial obligation repayment interventions Jan. 2017 Click for meta-analytic results
Parenting programs (for incarcerated parents) Aug. 2016 Click for meta-analytic results
Revocation reduction programs Mar. 2017 Click for meta-analytic results
Therapeutic communities for individuals with personality disorders Dec. 2016 Click for meta-analytic results
Banning criminal record check boxes in hiring Nov. 2016 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Cautioning for cannabis offenses Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Child support barriers Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Mentoring programs Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Pretrial detention Feb. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Project Sentry Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
State ID provision Mar. 2017 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Veteran's courts Jul. 2016 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Click to expand
For more information on the methods
used please see our Technical Documentation.
360.664.9800
institute@wsipp.wa.gov