Benefit Analysis in Criminal Justice: An Example Application to a Statewide Drug Treatment System

By Peter A. Collins | Go to book overview

Chapter 1: Sizing up Substance
Abuse and Treatment Issues: The
Importance of Collaborative Efforts

In nearly every governing context, whether affluent or impoverished or progressive or hidebound by tradition, state policy makers must take into consideration a host of issues when deciding how to allocate their scarce economic resources to public, non-profit, and private social service institutions and programs. In order to allocate resources effectively, state policy makers and practitioners at all levels rely on several sources of information, including the results of relevant empirical research. The need for such empirical research is at a premium generally, and in regard to substance abuse treatment, where annual costs for such treatment constitute millions of dollars of state and local government expenditures such information is of critical importance (SAMHSA, 2008). Policy makers and citizens alike want to know that the money being spent on treatment is being used effectively, and that there are measurable benefits associated with such expenditures. Equally, there is a desire by policy makers to understand the costs and benefits of substance abuse treatment.

As is the case with many other states, Idaho periodically faces major budget shortfalls. Social services are often ripe grounds for trimming costs under such circumstances; however, lawmakers understand the value of a well-informed decision. Given the “great recession” and the ever-so-slow recovery, there is a growing demand at the state and national levels of government for economic research, especially those research projects which can show where scarce budget dollars are well spent. In response to this demand, this research employs cost-benefit methods in order to assess the benefits associated

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