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Guide to Calculating Justice-System Marginal Costs
Christian Henrichson; Sarah Galgano
This document examines the concepts and calculations of costs of operating jails, prisons, supervision, courts, law enforcement agencies, treatment programs, and other criminal justice initiatives.
This document guides both technical users and general readers through the concepts and calculations behind various types of costs, and the consequences for policy and practice of focusing on one type of cost over another. The first section of this guide is an overview of the marginal costs used in a cost-benefit analysis. Next is a summary of the methods to calculate these costs. The third section provides guidance on how to calculate marginal costs in specific segments of the criminal justice system. The guide ends with recommended steps that cost-benefit analysts and justice agencies can take to improve the quality and relevance of cost- benefit analysis for policymaking. The glossary includes several important terms that are highlighted in bold throughout the guide. 13 figures and 44 endnotes