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Benefits and Costs of a Targeted Intervention Program for Youthful Offenders: The YouthBuild USA Offender Project

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2015

Mark A. Cohen*
Justin Potter Professor of American Competitive Enterprise and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University, 401 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203, USA Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, USA, e-mail:
Alex R. Piquero
Ashbel Smith Professor of Criminology, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas - Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson, TX 75080, USA


This paper reports on a benefit-cost analysis of a targeted intervention program, the YouthBuild USA Offender Project (YBOP), aimed at low-income, criminal offenders who are 16–24 years old. Using data on 388 participants, we find: (1) evidence of reduced recidivism and improved educational outcomes that exceed our expectations based on similar cohorts and (2) evidence consistent with a positive benefit-cost ratio, indicating that every dollar spent on the YBOP is estimated to produce a return on investment between $7.20 and $21.60, with benefits to society ranging between $174,000 and $281,000 per participant at a cost to society between $13,000 and $24,000.

© Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis 2015 

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