Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Glen P Jackson

Committee Co-Chair

Paul Speaker

Committee Member

Casper Venter


Prosecuting crime is an expensive endeavor. This thesis compiles data from a variety of sources to show that, in 2015, the average cost of prosecuting a seized-drug case in the United States was about {dollar}26,000. Of that amount, crime laboratories only cost about {dollar}275 per seized-drug case, or less than ~1% of the total cost of prosecuting a drug case. We show that the criminal justice system could save millions of dollars per year by strategically investing in portable chemical instrumentation and conducting seized-drug confirmatory analyses at the scene of the crime, or at booking, instead of in the laboratory. Such investments would require that on-site analyses meet the same strict standards for drug identifications as conventional laboratory protocols and that drug identification reports be completed before booking.;By implementing confirmatory portable instrumentation to analyze seized-drug samples in the field, the initial cost of investment can be justified by the benefits and cost savings in the court system. For example, one major economic benefit of on-site testing is the reduction of pretrial costs---like jail time---for suspects awaiting trial. Our calculations show that marginal savings between {dollar}1.5M and {dollar}20M within the first year and between {dollar}8M and {dollar}90M by the fifth year of implementation are possible for each set of portable instruments purchased. The economic analysis includes expenses such as the capital equipment costs, supplies, service contracts, full-time equivalent employees and their benefits and travel. The estimated cost of deployment is ~{dollar}327,000 in the first year and an additional cost of ~{dollar}214,000 a year thereafter. On-site analyses are expected to save an average of 150 jail days per case, which, at an average cost of {dollar}129 per day, would save approximately {dollar}10K per case. In addition to the economic benefits, some additional benefits for pre-booking drug tests include reduced recidivism rates, better prosecutorial accuracy, increased public faith, and decreased compensation costs for the wrongly convicted. For all these reasons, portable instrumentation can greatly benefit the entire criminal justice system.