Long-term cost effectiveness of addiction treatment for criminal offenders

Kathryn E. McCollister, Michael T. French, Michael L. Prendergast, Elizabeth Hall, Stan Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


This paper extends previous research that performed a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of the Amity in-prison therapeutic community (TC) and Vista aftercare programs for criminal offenders in southern California. To assess the impact of treatment over time for this unique sample of criminal offenders, a 5-year follow-up CEA was performed to compare the cost of an offender's treatment - starting with the in-prison TC program and including any community-based treatment received post-parole - and the effectiveness of treatment in terms of days reincarcerated. The average cost of addiction treatment over the baseline and 5-year follow-up period was $7,041 for the Amity group and $1,731 for the control group. The additional investment of $5,311 in treatment yielded 81 fewer incarceration days (13%) among Amity participants relative to controls - a cost-effectiveness ratio of $65. When considering the average daily cost of incarceration in California ($72), these results suggest that offering treatment in prison and then directing offenders into community-based aftercare treatment is a cost-effective policy tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-679
Number of pages21
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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