The Costs of Crime and Justice  book cover
2nd Edition

The Costs of Crime and Justice

ISBN 9781138363663
Published February 21, 2020 by Routledge
300 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

USD $54.95

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Book Description

This book presents a comprehensive view of the financial and non-financial consequences of criminal behavior, crime prevention, and society’s response to crime. Crime costs are far-reaching, including medical costs, lost wages, property damage and pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life for victims and the public at large; police, courts, and prisons; and offenders and their families who may suffer consequences incidental to any punishment they receive for committing crime.

The book provides a comprehensive economic framework and overview of the empirical methodologies used to estimate costs of crime. It provides an assessment of what is known and where the gaps in knowledge are in understanding the costs and consequences of crime. Individual chapters focus on victims, governments, as well as the public at large. Separate chapters detail the various methodologies used to estimate crime costs, while two chapters are devoted to policy analysis – both cost-effectiveness and benefit-cost analysis. The second edition is completely updated and expanded since the first edition in 2005. All cost estimates have also been updated. In addition, due to a significant increase in the number of studies on the cost of crime, new chapters focus on the costs to offenders and their families; white-collar and corporate crime; and the cost of crime estimates around the world.

Understanding the costs of crime can lead to important insights and policy conclusions – both for criminal justice policy and other social ills that compete with crime for government funding. Thus, the target audience for this book includes criminologists and policy makers who are seeking to apply rigorous social science methods to assist in developing appropriate criminal justice policies. Note that the book is non-technical and does not assume the reader is conversant in economics or statistics.

Table of Contents


List of Tables

List of Figures

List of Boxes




Chapter 1 - Introduction and Overview

  • Introduction
  • Why Do We Need Estimates of the "Cost of Crime?"
    • Relative Harm by Type of Crime
    • Aggregate Costs and Benefits
    • Benefit-cost Analysis of Crime Control Policies

  • History of Cost of Crime Estimates
  • Scope of Book and Crime Costs
    • Costs Imposed Directly as a Result of Crime
    • Cost of Society’s Response to Crime
    • Offender Costs

  • Remainder of Book

Chapter 2 - An Economic Approach to Crime and Costing Methodologies


  • Introduction
  • Economic Theory of Crime
  • Definition of "Costs"
    • External versus Social Costs
    • Tangible versus Intangible Costs
    • Direct versus Indirect Costs
    • Ex Ante versus Ex Post Costs
    • Opportunity Costs
    • Average versus Marginal Costs
    • Cost Reducing Investments
    • From Whose Perspective are Costs to be Measured?
    • Timing of Costs and Discounting to Present Value

  • Methodologies for Estimating Costs
    • Tangible Costs of Crime
    • Intangible Costs of Crime



Chapter 3 - Victim Costs

  • Introduction
  • Average Cost of Crime to Victims
  • Total Cost of Crime to Victims
  • Tangible Victim Costs
    • Medical Costs
    • Mental Health Care Costs
    • Productivity Losses
      • Work Days
      • Household Services
      • School Days

    • Property Losses
    • Indirect Costs of Victimization

  • Intangible Victim Costs
    • Pain, Suffering and Reduced Quality of Life
    • Lost Quality of Life for Fatal Crimes

  • Demographic Breakdown of Costs

Chapter 4 - Public Sector Costs

  • Introduction
  • Aggregate Costs of Criminal Justice System
  • Criminal Justice and Emergency Response Costs Per Offense
    • Police Costs
    • Judicial and Legal Costs
    • Corrections
    • School Security
    • Other Emergency Response Costs

  • Victim Services
  • Victim Restitution and Compensation Programs


Chapter 5 - Third-Party Costs

  • Introduction
  • Costs Directly Attributable to Individual Crimes
    • Family Members and Other Non-Victims Directly Affected by Victimization
      • Lost Productivity to Family Members
      • Loss of Services to Family Members
      • Psychological Impacts on Family members
      • Psychological Impact on Non-Victims and the Public at Large

    • Insurance Payments
    • Productivity Losses to Employers of Victims

  • Public Response to Crime: Crime Prevention and Avoidance Behavior
  • Fear of Crime
  • Wrongful Convictions


Chapter 6 - Costs to Offenders, Families, and Communities

  • Introduction
  • Costs to Offenders
    • Direct Costs of Criminal Activity
    • Productivity Losses while Incarcerated
    • Risk of Injury, Illness or Death while Incarcerated
      • Sexual Assault in Prison
      • Premature Death in Prison
      • Physical Assault in Prison
      • Health Status of Prisoners

    • Long-term Costs after Release
      • Productivity Losses
      • Long-term Health Outcomes
      • Increased Risk of Recidivism

    • Lost Freedom while Incarcerated

  • Costs to Offender Families
    • Monetary Costs to Offender Families
    • Non-Monetary Costs to Offender Families
    • Intergenerational Transmission of Crime

  • Costs to Communities and/or Society at Large
  • Summing up the Costs of Crime


Chapter 7 - Revealed Preference – Market-Based Approaches

  • Introduction
  • Housing Markets and the Cost of Crime
  • Wage Rates and the Cost of Crime


Chapter 8 - Stated Preference Approaches

  • Introduction
  • Jury Awards as a Measure of Pain & Suffering for Crime Victims
  • Quality Adjusted Life Years ("QALY")
  • Willingness-to-Pay for Crime Reductions
    • Valuing Crimes and Alternative Policies
    • Comparison of Willingness-to-Pay to Bottom-Up Methods

  • Life Satisfaction Surveys


Chapter 9 - Cost-Effectiveness and Break-Even Analysis

  • Introduction
  • Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
    • "Three Strikes" and You are in Prison for Life…
    • Comparing Alternative Drug Control Strategies
    • Diverting Children from a Life of Crime
    • Caveats to "Cost-Effectiveness Studies"

  • Break-even Analysis using Cost of Crime Estimates
    • Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
    • Monetary Value of Saving a High-Risk Youth


Chapter 10 - Benefit-Cost Analysis

  • Introduction
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis 101
  • Benefit-Cost Analysis as a Public Policy Tool
    • Benefit-Cost Analysis of Criminal Justice Policies

  • Methodological Issues and Limitations of Benefit-Cost Analyses
    • Ignoring Intangible Costs
    • Ignoring Alternative Programs with Higher Benefits or Lower Costs
    • Which Benefits and Costs to Count?
    • Non-quantified Benefits and Costs
    • Uncertainty/Sensitivity Analysis
    • Does Benefit-Cost Analysis Hurt the Poor?
    • Monetary Value of Saving a High-Risk Youth


Chapter 11 - White Collar & Corporate Offenses

  • Introduction
  • Estimation Methodologies
  • The Cost to Victims of White-Collar and Corporate Crime
    • Occupational Theft and Employee Fraud
    • Tax Evasion
    • Cybercrime
    • Counterfeit Products and Piracy
    • Fraud Against Retailers
    • Insurance Fraud
      • Health Care Fraud
      • Non-Health Insurance Fraud

    • Consumer Fraud
    • Identity Theft
    • Government Benefits Fraud
    • Government Procurement Fraud
    • Financial, Securities and Mortgage Fraud
    • Other Regulatory Crimes

  • Concluding Remarks

Chapter 12 - Cost of Crime Estimates Around the World

  • Introduction
  • Aggregate Cost of Crime Estimates Around the Globe
    • United Kingdom
    • Australia
    • Canada
    • France
    • Latin America and Caribbean
    • New Zealand
      • Poland

    • South Africa

  • "Willingness-to-Pay" Estimates of the Cost of Individual Crimes
    • Argentina
    • Norway
    • Portugal
    • United States
    • United Kingdom
    • Summary and Comparison of WTP Estimates

  • Life Satisfaction Studies
    • Australia
    • China
    • Japan

  • Attempts to Standardize Estimates of the Cost of Crime



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Mark A. Cohen holds the Justin Potter Chair in American Competitive Enterprise at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, and also holds a secondary appointment as Professor of Law at Vanderbilt. He was previously a Visiting Professor of Criminal Justice Economics at the University of York, UK, and Chairman of the American Statistical Association’s Committee on Law and Justice Statistics. Professor Cohen received his PhD in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University. He is the author of more than 100 books and journal articles on crime, law, and economics.


"Although monetization studies are a niche area of research in criminology, the general public, media, and policy makers have a broad interest in the human and fiscal toll of crime. Professor Cohen is the unparalleled leader in monetization of crime research and The Costs of Crime and Justice, Second Edition is his masterwork." —Matt DeLisi, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Professor, Iowa State University; Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Criminal Justice

"It is extremely important to estimate the monetary costs and benefits of programs that are intended to reduce crime, in order to decide which programs should be given priority. Mark Cohen's book is a masterly encyclopedic survey of knowledge about methods of measuring the monetary costs of crime. This book should be read by everyone who is interested in criminology and criminal justice." -- David P. Farrington, Emeritus Professor of Psychological Criminology, Cambridge University

"Mark Cohen is a pioneer in applying modern economics to the measurement of the costs of crime. This book ties together decades of his work on this important topic. It is a must read for anyone wishing to seriously engage the challenges of measuring the cost of crime and punishment." -- Daniel S. Nagin, Teresa And H. John Heinz III University Professor of Public Policy and Statistics, Carnegie-Mellon University; co-editor, Criminology and Public Policy