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 2016
Search by program description

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

All Research Areas
Juvenile Justice
Adult Criminal Justice
Child Welfare
Pre-K to 12 Education
Children's Mental Health
Health Care
Substance Abuse
Adult Mental Health
Public Health & Prevention
Workforce Development
Higher Education
Adult Criminal Justice
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
Employment & job training assistance during incarceration Sep. 2015 $34,860 $10,092 $24,768 ($465) $34,396 $75.04 99 %
Electronic monitoring (probation) Dec. 2014 $25,739 $7,160 $18,579 $1,124 $26,863 n/a 94 %
Therapeutic communities for offenders with co-occuring disorders Nov. 2014 $25,848 $7,975 $17,872 ($3,738) $22,109 $6.91 99 %
Correctional education (basic or post-secondary) in prison Oct. 2015 $21,788 $6,449 $15,339 ($1,187) $20,601 $18.36 100 %
Offender Re-entry Community Safety Program (dangerously mentally ill offenders) Apr. 2012 $55,488 $22,404 $33,083 ($36,283) $19,204 $1.53 90 %
Day reporting centers Mar. 2015 $22,489 $6,958 $15,531 ($3,940) $18,549 $5.71 92 %
Vocational education in prison Aug. 2015 $20,064 $6,017 $14,048 ($1,653) $18,411 $12.13 100 %
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (for drug offenders) Apr. 2012 $19,867 $5,875 $13,993 ($1,610) $18,257 $12.34 98 %
Mental health courts May. 2014 $19,080 $5,941 $13,140 ($3,067) $16,014 $6.22 99 %
Electronic monitoring (parole) Dec. 2014 $14,342 $3,963 $10,379 $1,125 $15,467 n/a 100 %
Outpatient/non-intensive drug treatment (incarceration) Nov. 2014 $15,060 $4,475 $10,585 ($935) $14,125 $16.10 100 %
Swift and Certain sanctions for offenders on community supervision Oct. 2015 $13,356 $3,699 $9,658 $696 $14,052 n/a 100 %
Inpatient/intensive outpatient drug treatment (incarceration) Nov. 2014 $15,445 $4,682 $10,763 ($1,599) $13,846 $9.66 100 %
Sex offender treatment in the community Dec. 2013 $14,464 $3,478 $10,987 ($1,664) $12,800 $8.69 93 %
Risk Need & Responsivity supervision (for high and moderate risk offenders) Dec. 2013 $17,125 $5,642 $11,483 ($5,005) $12,121 $3.42 100 %
Jail diversion programs for offenders with mental illness (post-arrest programs) Mar. 2015 $5,044 ($3,760) $8,803 $5,618 $10,661 n/a 61 %
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (for high- and moderate-risk offenders) Aug. 2014 $10,483 $3,079 $7,405 ($433) $10,050 $24.19 100 %
Therapeutic communities for chemically dependent offenders (community) Nov. 2014 $11,503 $3,499 $8,004 ($1,562) $9,941 $7.37 100 %
Case management: swift & certain/graduated sanctions for substance abusing offenders Dec. 2012 $14,263 $4,762 $9,501 ($4,996) $9,267 $2.85 95 %
Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative (for property offenders) Dec. 2012 $10,627 $3,249 $7,378 ($1,609) $9,018 $6.60 70 %
Drug courts Aug. 2014 $13,015 $4,098 $8,917 ($4,984) $8,031 $2.61 100 %
Employment & job training assistance in the community May. 2015 $8,441 $2,469 $5,972 ($464) $7,977 $18.17 99 %
Work release Aug. 2015 $6,450 $1,959 $4,492 ($693) $5,757 $9.30 99 %
Correctional industries in prison Aug. 2015 $6,437 $2,071 $4,366 ($1,493) $4,945 $4.31 100 %
Therapeutic communities for chemically dependent offenders (incarceration) Nov. 2014 $9,892 $3,590 $6,303 ($5,004) $4,888 $1.98 94 %
Outpatient/non-intensive drug treatment (community) Nov. 2014 $4,712 $1,461 $3,251 ($854) $3,858 $5.52 91 %
Sex offender treatment during incarceration Dec. 2013 $8,813 $2,602 $6,212 ($5,222) $3,591 $1.69 75 %
Intensive supervision (surveillance & treatment) Apr. 2012 $11,508 $4,440 $7,069 ($8,231) $3,278 $1.40 73 %
Restorative justice conferencing Oct. 2015 $3,767 $1,224 $2,543 ($1,081) $2,686 $3.49 70 %
Inpatient/intensive outpatient drug treatment (community) Nov. 2014 $1,233 $501 $732 ($1,045) $188 $1.18 51 %
Case management: not swift and certain for substance abusing offenders Nov. 2015 $3,183 $1,614 $1,569 ($5,000) ($1,817) $0.64 33 %
Intensive supervision (surveillance only) Apr. 2012 ($3,316) ($326) ($2,990) ($4,330) ($7,646) ($0.77) 5 %
Domestic violence perpetrator treatment (Duluth-based model) Aug. 2014 ($8,000) ($2,074) ($5,925) ($1,434) ($9,433) ($5.58) 17 %
Prison
For lower risk offenders, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($4,140) ($790) ($3,350) $5,814 $1,673 n/a 71 %
For moderate risk offenders, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($14,510) ($2,237) ($12,273) $5,818 ($8,693) n/a 11 %
For high risk offenders, decrease prison average daily population by 250, by lowering length of stay by 3 months Oct. 2013 ($40,980) ($5,272) ($35,708) $5,818 ($35,163) n/a 1 %
Police (results per-officer)
Deploy one additional police officer with hot spots strategies Oct. 2013 $569,197 $70,385 $498,811 ($95,560) $473,637 $5.96 100 %
Deploy one additional police officer with statewide average practices Oct. 2013 $491,414 $60,352 $431,062 ($91,001) $400,413 $5.40 100 %
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
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Sep. 2015 Click for meta-analytic results
Domestic violence perpetrator treatment (Non-Duluth models) Aug. 2014 Click for meta-analytic results
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) court Feb. 2014 Click for meta-analytic results
Housing supports for offenders returning to the community Apr. 2012 Click for meta-analytic results
Ignition interlock devices for alcohol-related offenses Mar. 2014 Click for meta-analytic results
Parenting programs (during incarceration) Nov. 2014 No rigorous evaluation measuring outcome of interest.
Veteran's courts Nov. 2014 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