Juvenile Crime and the Economic and Social Benefits of Implementing Effective Delinquency Prevention Programs: A Case Study of the District of Columbia

Jeffrey M. Poirier


This article includes a cost-benefit analysis of Functional Family Therapy (FFT), a program to reduce juvenile crime and delinquency. To illustrate that effective delinquency prevention programs and policy can benefit urban communities, this analysis uses the D.C. government as a case study to examine the expected outcomes of FFT. This analysis predicts that FFT will yield estimated total benefits of $8.3 million and estimated total costs of $4.2 million if the program were implemented over an eight-year period, resulting in a benefit-cost ratio of about 2. Policymakers in urban communities must recognize that the long-term savings of reduced juvenile crime, achieved by implementing evidence-based delinquency prevention and treatment services, exceed program costs. In response to juvenile crime, communities should develop comprehensive strategies of programs designed to reduce juvenile delinquency, guided by the large and growing body of research on effective prevention of delinquency, rather than turn to increased incarceration.


delinquency prevention programs; functional family therapy; FFT; juvenile crime; juvenile delinquency; juvenile justice; District of Columbia; cost-benefit analysis; urban communities; youth incarceration

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4079/pp.v14i1.4146