The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Illinois

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Illinois

Editor's note: This page was updated in November 2017 to reflect recent activity in the state.


In the fall of 2011, at the request of Gino DiVito, chairman of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC), the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative began working with the council to develop the Illinois Results First cost-benefit model for adult criminal justice programs and policies. 

With Results First, the council’s primary objective is to produce systemwide fiscal impact statements for relevant criminal justice legislation that utilize cost-benefit analysis of various corrections programs and strategies, including traditional sentencing schemes as well as diversion and probation programs.

In February 2017, the Budgeting for Results (BFR) Commission, within the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of the commission’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Working Group to participate in the Results First Initiative. With SPAC serving in an advisory role, the commission will develop a comprehensive inventory of adult criminal justice programs offered in Illinois prisons and conduct cost-benefit analysis on current and potential program offerings.


In partnership with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, SPAC’s executive director, Kathy Saltmarsh, directs a multi-agency team of analysts in customizing the Results First model to fit Illinois’ unique criminal justice context. This includes generating an inventory of state-funded criminal justice programs and analyzing sentencing practices, offender flow, recidivism over a nine-year period, and fiscal data.

To fulfill statutory requirements to support state performance-based budgeting efforts, the BFR Commission will oversee development and use of the Illinois cost-benefit model and its applications in state budgeting.


SPAC first used the Results First model in early 2013 to assess the fiscal impact of three proposed sentencing bills. The assessment showed that the proposals would increase Illinois Department of Corrections costs by more than $394 million over a three-year period. In 2015, SPAC released a report calculating the costs to victims and to state agencies associated with the current trend of recidivism. The report, "The High Cost of Recidivism," showed that the state would spend over $16.7 billion on recidivism over a five-year period if current trends continued.

Most recently, SPAC in 2016 completed the adult criminal justice component of the Results First model and released "A Cost-Benefit Tool for Illinois Criminal Justice Policymakers," which highlights the need for the state to invest in evidence-based programs.

Next steps

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, under the direction of the BFR Commission, is working with SPAC and Results First staff to develop a comprehensive inventory of adult criminal justice program investments and to update the Illinois Results First model. The commission intends to use the findings to demonstrate the long-term value of funding effective programs that reduce recidivism and use the information to inform future resource allocations. After the model has been developed in the areas of criminal justice, BFR Commission staff members hope to expand their work into additional policy areas.