Reclaiming Futures Cuts Crime, Saves Money

by Evan Elkin

NEWS RELEASE: January 26, 2016

Jenna Cerruti
503-517-2773 x4

Reclaiming Futures Cuts Crime, Saves Money

National evaluation shows that Reclaiming Futures generated $11 million in cost savings over one year; promoted better outcomes for teens and communities.

Portland, Oregon — Five communities using the Reclaiming Futures model — a national public health and juvenile justice reform framework that promotes effective treatment practices — saved $11 million in one year. The national evaluation showed that juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model saw significant reductions in crime and delinquency, which drove these notable fiscal savings.

Conducted by the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women and funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress, research examined cost savings over a 12-month period at five juvenile drug courts around the country where the Reclaiming Futures model was implemented. Results show that the savings from implementing Reclaiming Futures are more than double its cost; net savings amounted to $84,569 per teen. Serving a total of 139 teens over the year of the study, these five communities saved more than $11 million in total. Further, average savings were even greater among participating teens with severe clinical problems, amounting to $232,109 in savings per teen.

“This research reinforces that Reclaiming Futures is successful at getting effective treatment to court-involved youth, especially those with more significant treatment needs, preventing recidivism, and all the while saving money that can be reinvested into community-based programs” says Evan Elkin, Reclaiming Futures’ executive director. “This is good news for both the economic health and the well-being of our communities.”

Though researchers looked at several factors to determine savings, such as days of missed school or work, days of physical health problems and days of mental health problems, the primary driver of savings was a reduction in crime and delinquency, showing that pairing Reclaiming Futures with juvenile drug courts reduces recidivism and supports positive outcomes for teens.

“Our analysis did not isolate the specific factors contributing to the reduction in criminal activity that generated the greatest savings from juvenile drug courts implementing the Reclaiming Futures model. My impression, however, is that the coordination of care and interagency collaboration that Reclaiming Futures adds to juvenile drug courts may be a key factor in reducing crime and delinquency among this group,” says researcher Kathryn McCollister, Ph.D. at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, a consultant on the national evaluation.

The five communities that implemented Reclaiming Futures are diverse both geographically and regarding the populations they serve. Two communities are located on the West Coast, two in the Midwest, and one in the Great Lakes region. All are funded as part of a multi-million dollar effort by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Read the policy brief here.

About Reclaiming Futures

Reclaiming Futures, founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is a national public health and juvenile justice reform framework that promotes effective treatment practices. The model offers an effective approach to keeping court-involved teens safely in the community and getting them the services and supports they need to succeed. In 42 communities across the nation, Reclaiming Futures has received investments to spread its model from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, The Duke Endowment and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The national office of Reclaiming Futures is housed in the Regional Research Institute, School of Social Work at Portland State University.



Evan Elkin


Evan Elkin is the executive director of Reclaiming Futures.