Most agencies and organizations require an assessment to ascertain that particular activities and strategies successfully achieve the intended outcome. Without an evaluation, there is no benchmark between the current situation and the aspired situation in relation to a particular phenomenon. The criminal justice system takes the same approach when dealing with crime and efforts to reduce criminal activities within the community. The system has to carry out continuous assessments and evaluations to ensure that employed strategies stay in line with the set objectives. A careful evaluation of the criminal justice system’s strategies will offer suggestions on the best course of action in relation to intended goals. This paper will look at the social accounting model of evaluation as the most applicable evaluation model for modern criminal justice.
The Social Accounting Evaluation Model
The social accounting evaluation model focuses on the cost and benefit analysis of criminal justice systems in society. The evaluation model does not consider the goals and objectives of a program and focuses on the cost of establishing and running the program and the overall benefits it will have on reducing criminal activities in the society. The social accounting model evaluates a program across time and many different criminal justice systems and communities. The model expresses the system’s benefits and costs by identifying the net surplus or the net deficit (Janeksela, 1977). The social accounting evaluation model allows for the cross-examination of the justice system based on relative efficiency. The model has formulas that can be used to identify the social benefits, social surplus, social costs, and cumulative social surplus.
The relevance of the model
The evaluation of criminal justice policies is a process that involves analysis, understanding, and communication of the way that programs aimed to minimize crime in the society are set up. The evaluation also tends to monitor whether or not such programs work. The social accounting evaluation model is relevant in the modern criminal justice system as it allows for the quantification of the program’s effectiveness. Therefore, the criminal justice programs can be easily measured and compared, not in relation to the end goal but in relation to the positive attributes (social surplus) or social deficits they bring. Other models focus on the overall outcome or end-goal of criminal justice system objectives. The model can systematically assess the success of a program over a period. Thus, it is easy to know whether to carry on with a program or to overhaul and get a new program to social criminal issues within the community (Cole et al., 2018). The model is also superior to other models in that it can measure or evaluate programs across programs, counterpart systems, and across communities.
Effectiveness of the Model
The model is effective in that it employs an economical approach to evaluating the criminal justice system. Through the model, the costs and benefits of programs can be expressed in monetary terms. This makes it easier to identify a value program and one that does not add value to the community. A good example is the policy of gang violence in the country. Many states and their communities have set goals and objectives for doing away with gang-related crime. More than half of the states have a policy that relates to the abolishment of criminal gangs. Specific programs such as youth centers or youth-related camps may divert young children and adults from joining gangs. The value gained through such programs should be compared to the costs of having the programs. If the youths and children are still joining gangs in large numbers, then the program’s costs are higher than the social benefits, and another program should be evaluated.
The model involves other models of evaluation, such as impact evaluation. The social accounting evaluation model shows the program planning stages (Linnell, 2014). It shows the amount of economic value a certain program might have. Such economic values are directly proportional to societal values. The program is also able to measure end goals that occur in stages. In the policies related to gang violence, the model could, for instance, be used to measure the reduction in drug use and trafficking within the community, which is the leading cause of gang violence. Identifying such a reduction might be signs of progress.