Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Student analysis informs Wisconsin justice recommendations

Available online

"Statewide Expansion of Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration in Wisconsin: A Cost Benefit Analysis" is available as La Follette School Working Paper No. 2012-004.

Healthier Lives, Stronger Families, Safe Communities: How Increasing Funding for Alternatives to Prison Will Save Lives and Money in Wisconsin, November 2012, Human Impact Partners and WISDOM

Cost-benefit analysis recommends statewide investment in alternatives to incarceration, April 30, 2012, La Follette School News

A cost-benefit analysis by La Follette School students is cited several times in a health impact assessment of the predicted results of increased funds for treatment alternative and diversion programs, which include drug and alcohol treatment courts, day reporting centers, and mental health treatment courts.

Students in the fall 2011 cost-benefit course taught by David Weimer examined Wisconsin's treatment alternatives and diversion program. They recommended that Wisconsin invest $20 million in programs that divert some non-violent criminal offenders from jail or prison to community-based alternatives. The annual investment could help offset increased costs of incarceration and reduce prison overcrowding.

Released in November 2012, the health impact assessment citing the La Follette analysis was conducted and published by Human Impact Partners and WISDOM. It recommends in part that Wisconsin increase state treatment alternatives and diversion funding to $75 million a year, dividing the investment according to the La Follette report's recommendation that 75 percent be allocated to diversion and 25 percent to drug courts. The Human Impact Partners assessment also recommends the state allocate another $20 million to treatment alternatives and diversion programs statewide to improve related services, such as mental health, jobs, substance abuse treatment, and family support.

The La Follette authors are Anne Chapman, Colin Christopher, Tim Nardine, Karen Parkinson, Justin Rabbach and Nicole Thiher. They produced the report for Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee. All graduated in 2012 with Master of International Public Affairs degrees, except for Chapman, who earned a Master of Public Affairs, and Nardine, who earned a master of public health. Their original analysis is available as La Follette School Working Paper No. 2012-004.