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Harms After a Victimization: Experience and Needs (HAVEN)

A comprehensive update to the costs and consequences of criminal victimization
  • Client
    National Institute of Justice
  • Dates
    January 2020 - September 2023


Data limits lead to underestimates of harms from criminal victimization.

A standard goal of public policy in crime and justice is to invest in responses to crime at a scale that is at least equal to the harms from victimization. Because the harms from crime are multidimensional—harming not only the direct victim of a crime but also their family, friends, and community—and because there is harm to the victim(s) today and in the future, measurement of harms is challenging. Standard harms estimates used in policymaking are now more than 25 years old and in need of an update. And, because of historical data limitations, those estimates exclude many important consequences of victimization, leading to underestimates of victims harms and underinvestment in crime prevention.


Using Integrated Crime and Health data for Comprehensive harms estimates.

The Harms After a Victimization: Experience and Needs (HAVEN) project is developing new methods of measuring the costs of being criminally victimized. Researchers from NORC at the University of Chicago and Temple University have partnered to develop a new methodology to calculate the cost of crime victimization, linking statistical modeling of program effects with costs and benefits to jointly estimate harms. We are also developing new measures of harm that will include the costs of physical harms and the costs of mental and behavioral health harm, trauma, disability, and repeat victimization. The study also explores whether victim services are underresourced and under-utilized as a response to victimization. Integrated data, augmented by household survey data, will be used to develop a new estimation model for the costs of crime victimization and the benefits of intervention(s).


Catastrophic harms drive total victim costs.

Two main finding are emerging from the study. First, conventional studies of harms focus on acute care costs of emergency department and inpatient stays immediately following victimization, along with lost wages. HAVEN finds that post-release costs, including outpatient and long-term care, trauma, morbidity, disability and lost quality of life cause harms to victims that are larger than the acute harms. Second, harms from victimizations are not normally distributed in the population. A relatively small proportion of cases (about 10%) have costs that are 10 times (or more) the median costs. This 'Power Law' distribution suggests that catastrophic costs in this subpopulation explain a disproportionate part of total victimization harms.

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