The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Illinois

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative in Illinois

Editor's note: This page was updated in June 2020 to reflect recent activity in the state.

Background

In the fall of 2011, at the request of Gino DiVito, chairman of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC), the 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 use 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 conducts cost-benefit analysis on public safety and human service programs delivered by Illinois state agencies.

Implementation

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 programs and analyzing sentencing practices, flow of people through the criminal justice system, recidivism over a nine-year period, and fiscal data.

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

Findings

From 2013 to 2019, SPAC used the Results First model to conduct economic analyses of adult criminal justice programs and sentencing policy. 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 2016, SPAC released "A Cost-Benefit Tool for Illinois Criminal Justice Policymakers," which highlights the need for the state to invest in evidence-based programs. In 2018, SPAC updated its “High Cost of Recidivism” report from 2015 showing that the cost of each individual reconviction had increased but that the decline in repeat criminal offending will reduce the statewide spending from $16.7 billion to $13 billion over a five-year period.

In 2017, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), under the direction of the BFR Commission, began using tools from Results First to develop an inventory of prison programs and determine the evidence base behind each service. These efforts are part of an ongoing endeavor to make more informed policy and budget decisions and produce a better return on taxpayer dollars. In 2018, GOMB reported its assessment with cost-benefit analysis of seven programs delivered by the Illinois Department of Corrections. The favorable findings informed budget decisions to increase resources for the educational and vocational programs. The review also found that one program, electronic monitoring supervision, fell short of expected delivery standards. Based on this finding, GOMB authorized an evaluation by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority that is expected to be completed in 2020. In 2019, GOMB reported on its review of three behavioral health programs for youth delivered by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, showing them to be cost-effective.

Next steps

The GOMB, under the direction of the BFR Commission, is developing a comprehensive inventory of substance use disorder treatment investments and continues to update the Illinois Results First model. The BFR Commission hopes to expand its cost-benefit analysis and program assessment work into additional policy areas, including economic development, education, government services, and health care.

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