A Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Birmingham, AL Breaking the Cycle Program

Jeffrey Merrill, Univ.of Medicine/Denistry of New Jersey

An issue of growing concern about any new intervention is whether or not its benefits outweigh the costs of implementation. In other words, if the benefits, as expressed in terms of cost offsets, exceed the cost of a program, then the program can be said to represent a net-savings or be cost/beneficial. In this study, we performed a cost/benefit analysis on the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) project in Birmingham, Alabama. Cost offsets are described in terms of savings with respect to potential reduced costs of crime, as well as possible reductions in mental health and medical costs and in welfare expenditures. These cost savings were estimated from data collected using a modified version of the Addiction Severity Index which provided information in each of these domains for both the intervention and control group at baseline and follow-up. Comparing the two groups at follow-up, and adjusting for differences at baseline permitted estimates to be made of possible savings in each of these domains. Based on local reimbursement data as well as on national estimates of the costs of crime allowed cost savings, where they existed, to be imputed. The costs to the program are based on the total costs to the Birmingham T.A.S.C. program and to the local criminal justice system of implementing BTC.

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Updated 05/20/2006