Juvenile Justice

Investing in programs for justice-involved youth that reduce future involvement in crime benefits all North Carolinians. Preventing a repeat offense among high-risk juveniles saves North Carolina $120,000 on average in victim, societal, and justice system costs – 79% of which is associated with the impact on victims.

The Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP) – Juvenile Community Programs offers a wide array of programs and services for adjudicated youth. These interventions aim to disrupt the cycle of recidivism, restore community safety, and help juveniles internalize skills thus promoting a trajectory for juveniles to lead successful and productive adult lives.

The NC Results First Initiative examined the effectiveness, costs, and benefits of DJJDP’s statewide contract programs that seek to reduce recidivism among adjudicated juveniles classified as high-risk. Three of the seven programs are proven to lower the likelihood of recidivism for this population, based on rigorous research evidence. The remaining programs have a strong theory base but need further evaluation to measure their effects.

Without state contracted program intervention, 55 percent of high-risk juveniles recidivate within five years. Key findings from this analysis, presented below, demonstrate the value of investing in preventive, forward-thinking juvenile programming.

Program Effectiveness and Return on Investment Findings

Program Impact -$Costs +$Benefits Net Impact Benefit: Cost Ratio Percent Confidence
AMIkids (Functional Family Therapy)
Most effective for youth with higher risks and needs
For youth re-entering the community on post-release supervision, AMIkids reduces recidivism by 69%. For every dollar spent, the program returns $9.44. -$6,428 $60,679 $54,251 $9.44:1 100%
For court-involved youth, AMIkids reduces recidivism by 13%. For every dollar spent, the program returns $0.97. -$6,428 $6,219 -$209 $0.97:1 50%
Methodist Multipurpose Group Homes and Transitional Living Homes using the Value-Based Therapeutic Environment model
Lowers recidivism by 26%. For every dollar spent, the program returns $13.01 -$2,421 $31,496 $29,075 $13.01:1 100%
Eckerd’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) component
Lowers recidivism by 10% when delivered in the secure custody or residential environment. For every dollar spent, the program returns $5.13. -$1,678 $8,605 $6,928 $5.13:1 65%

Table Note: Costs and benefits are presented in 2020 dollar values. Future costs and benefits are discounted using a 3.5% discount rate.

Available Reports

Juvenile Justice Program Inventory - Statewide Contracts

Juvenile Community Programs Statewide Contracts Project Brief


Total Costs: Costs reflect the immediate expenses that the state incurs from delivering the program to one person.

Total Benefits: The long-term, monetized benefits from reducing the likelihood of recidivism among high-risk juveniles include avoided crime victimizations, lower justice system costs, and higher education and earnings for participants. When applicable, the estimated benefits also include the avoided costs from the “usual” treatment – the services the individual would have otherwise received.

Net Impact: The per-person benefits minus the costs of program delivery provides a measure of return-on-investment. It answers, “How much better off is North Carolina from investing in this program?” 

Benefit-Cost Ratio: Another measure of return-on-investment, the benefit-cost ratio presents the benefits generated per dollar spent on the program. 

Confidence: The confidence metric is the percentage chance that the program will yield positive net benefits. To test the sensitivity of the results to variations in key estimates, this analysis simulated the benefits and costs 10,000 times, varying model inputs within a reasonable range.