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4.3: The Stages of Policy Development

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    Dangerous Myths about Juvenile Sex Offenders

    Identifying the Problem and Agenda Setting

    Formulation and Adoption

    Implementation of the Policy


    Impact (outcome) evaluations focus on what changes after the introduction of the crime policy. [1] Changes in police patrol practices aimed at reducing the level of residential burglaries in an area are evaluated in terms of subsequent burglaries. The difficulty with impact evaluations is that changes in the crime rate are rarely, if ever, due to a single intervening variable. For example, after the implementation of curfew laws for juvenile offenders, juvenile crime decreased. Can we say that was because of curfew laws? The entire crime rate for America decreased at the same time. Attributing a single outcome based on a solitary intervention is problematic.

    Process evaluations consider the implementation of a policy or program and involve determining the procedure used to implement the policy. These are detailed, descriptive accounts of the implementation of the policy including the goals of the program, who is involved, the level of training, the number of clients served, and changes to the program over time. [2] Unfortunately, process evaluations do not address the actual impact policy has on the crime problem, just what was done about a specific issue or who was involved. While this is indeed a limitation, it is essential to know the inner workings of a program or policy if it is to be replicated.

    Cost-benefit evaluations, or analysis, seeks to determine if the costs of a policy are justified by the benefits accrued. A ubiquitous example of this would be an evaluation of the popular anti-drug D.A.R.E. program of the 1980s and 1990s. The D.A.R.E. program was a school-based prevention program aimed at preventing drug use among elementary school-aged children. Rigorous evaluations of the program show that it was ineffective and sometimes actually increased drug use in some youth. The cost of this program was roughly $1.3 billion dollars a year (about $173 to $268 per student per year) to implement nationwide (once all related expenses, such as police officer training and services, materials and supplies, school resources, etc., were factored in). [3] Using a cost-benefit analysis, is that a good use of money to support an ineffective program?

    1. How can this be instituted? Fine the parent? Sentence the parents to jail time? The policy needs to be a concrete solution to a problem. Many states use fines instead of jailing the parents. (Who’s to watch over the children if the parents are locked up?) Fines sound great. This will make sure parents take an active interest in their children because they do not want to have to pay money if their kid gets into trouble.
    2. Who needs to be involved in lobbying for this law? Legislators? Senators? Local police? Maybe even city officials, local school boards, and religious organizations. So it’s put on the agenda and gets moved onto a ballot for an official vote. The citizens who think their city needs to be tough on crime vote to approve this policy.
    3. Bam, it’s law. It is implemented and now parents of juveniles delinquents are charged fines. This actually is a law in nearly every state. In the 1990s, Silverton, Oregon, was a model for communities interested in imposing ordinances that hold parents accountable for their children’s behavior. In Silverton, parents can be fined up to $1,000 if their child is found carrying a gun, smoking cigarettes, or using illegal drugs. Parents who agree to attend parenting classes can avoid fines. Within the first two months after the law was passed in early 1995, seven parents were fined and many others registered for parenting classes.

    Oregon has ORS 30.761 (2017), which states:

    increases recidivism! It’s true! A study of 1,167 youth in Pennsylvania found that the total amount of fines, fees and/or restitution significantly increased the likelihood of recidivism [4]. Justice system–imposed financial penalties increase the likelihood of recidivism in a sample of adolescent offenders [5] In particular, males, non-whites, and youth with prior dispositions and adjudicated with a drug or property offense were at an increased likelihood of recidivism associated with owing fines and fees (Piquero and Jennings, 2016). This is problematic as fees not only increase recidivism but also increase the likelihood of a “revolving door” juvenile justice system for minority youth.

    1. Lab, S. (2016). Crime Prevention: Approaches, Practices, and Evaluations (9th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
    2. Lab, S. (2016). Crime Prevention: Approaches, Practices, and Evaluations (9th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
    3. Shepard, E. (Winter 2001-2002) A new study finds. We wasted billions on D.A.R.E. Reconsider Quarterly,
    4. Piquero and Jennings, 2016, Piquero, A. and Jennings, W.G. (2015)
    5. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 15 (3) p. 325-340).

    This page titled 4.3: The Stages of Policy Development is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Alison S. Burke, David Carter, Brian Fedorek, Tiffany Morey, Lore Rutz-Burri, & Shanell Sanchez (OpenOregon) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.