Costs and Benefits of a Targeted Intervention Program for Youthful Offenders: The Youthbuild USA Offender Project
Mark A. Cohen
Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future
Alex R. Piquero
University of Texas at Dallas - School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; Griffith University
March 1, 2008
A great many intervention and prevention programs exist with respect to dealing with juvenile delinquency, but most of these do not get evaluated, and of those that do get evaluated, few are successful in reducing criminal activity. Further, most of these studies do not undertake cost/benefit analyses of the program. This paper reports on an outcome and cost/benefit evaluation of a targeted intervention program aimed at youthful offenders, the YouthBuild Offender Program. This program is a targeted intervention focusing on low-income, 16-24 year-old criminal offenders. Using data on 388 offenders, we find: (1) evidence of reduced recidivism and improved educational outcomes that exceed our expectations based on similar cohorts, and (2) considerable evidence consistent with a positive benefit-cost ratio, indicating that every dollar spent on the YouthBuild Offender Project is estimated to produce a social return on investment between $10.80 and $42.90, with benefits to society ranging between $134,000 and $536,000 per participant at a cost to society of about $12,500. Theoretical, empirical, and policy related issues and future directions are outlined.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 62
Keywords: cost-benefit analysis, high risk youth, delinquency, recidivism, high school graduation
JEL Classification: D61, K42, I21working papers series
Date posted: July 2, 2008 ; Last revised: November 19, 2012
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