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Cost-Effectiveness of Rehabilitation Versus Incarceration

Incarceration of offenders has proven to be a serious and persistent problem for criminal justice and public health systems. These systems must balance punishment and rehabilitation while simultaneously dealing with a high prevalence of psychosocial problems among criminal offenders, which contribute to the likelihood of ending up back in prison (i.e., recidivism). The cycle of recidivism is an economically and socially damaging problem and can be partially blamed on a lack of standard protocols for behavioral health, education, and other services both in prison and after release. Central to these challenges are concerns about the economic impact of rehabilitation interventions for offenders. In the face of unprecedented local, state, and federal budget crises, policy makers struggle to identify programs that are not only cost-effective in ...

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