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


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.

Author Biography

Jeffrey M. Poirier
Jeffrey M. Poirier earned a B.A. in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and has an M.A. in Education Policy Studies from The George Washington University, where he is enrolled in the Ph.D. program in public policy and administration. He is a Senior Research Analyst at the American Institutes for Research and has contributed to research on alternative education, education finance, international education, and juvenile justice. He co-authored a book chapter on the implications of failing to prevent emotional and behavioral disorders and articles on the needs of adjudicated girls and the prevalence of youth with disabilities in corrections. The author expresses deep gratitude to all reviewers and editors for their thoughtful input on the article. In particular, he would like to gratefully recognize his colleague and mentor Dr. Mary Magee Quinn, for her steadfast guidance and support over the years.