The collateral consequences of criminal convictions are costly for convicted individuals, victims, taxpayers, and society as a whole. Many of these costs are above and beyond the initial sentence, and they have far-reaching consequences. People with criminal records often struggle to find jobs, attend college, receive public benefits, and vote. Many reoffend, which places a high-priced burden on the victims, the surrounding community, and the taxpayers who fund the justice system. Fortunately, programs and policies can address these effects. But debates surrounding these programs and policies are often dominated by one of two perspectives: either a focus on the anticipated benefits or a primary concern with costs. Cost-benefit analysis can be an enormously helpful tool for policymakers when assessing the merits of a program and determining whether to invest scarce resources in criminal justice programs and policies.

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