The Massachusetts Special Commission on Criminal Justice, through Outside Section 189 of the Acts of 2011, voted in its first year to engage with Pew Charitable Trusts/MacArthur Foundation to implement a cutting-edge cost-benefit model, known as Results First. Based on a model in use for more than 15 years in Washington State and developed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), the Pew Center for the States is currently assisting 14 states and four California counties in implementing the Results First model (http://www.pewstates.org/projects/pew-macarthur-results-first-initiative-328069/state-work). The Results First model analyzes the costs and benefits of potential investment in public programs and relies on a meta-analysis of research on program effectiveness to predict the public safety and fiscal outcomes of each program in Massachusetts based on the unique population characteristics and the cost to provide these programs.
Three key data sets are necessary to help Massachusetts construct a return on investment model for evidence-based programs targeting reduced recidivism:
- Comprehensive recidivism analysis with a long-term follow-up period;
- Marginal costs; and
- Inventory of evidence-based programs (Program Mapping).
RPAD has been charged with leading this effort by serving as a liaison between Pew, EOPSS and our many criminal justice partner agencies across the state. The Results First model enables states to analyze a wide range of policy choices and identify those that can maximize outcomes and reduce costs; thus creating a predicted state-specific return on investment for each program.