Boot Camps

The questions put forth in this research paper are: whether participants in juvenile boot camps receive the services prescribed for them, what impact juvenile boot camps have on recidivism rates, what benefits juvenile offenders derive from boot camps, and whether juvenile boot camps are cost effective. Other topics that will arise in the course of this paper are the definition of boot camp, and goals of juvenile boot camps. Responding to increasing juvenile arrests, several states and localities established juvenile boot camps. Modeled after boot camps for adult offenders, the first camps emphasized military discipline and physical conditioning.

In response to increases in juvenile crime and the high cost of traditional confinement, the number of boot camps for juvenile offenders has grown in the last several years. Concurrently, much has been learned about juvenile boot camps and about their effectiveness as an intermediate corrections option. In other words are boot camps maximizing their chances of developing an effective program to help steer juvenile offenders back onto the pathway to responsible citizenship(Austin, 1993).

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A considerable body of thought concerning correctional boot camps has evolved from the inception of the first adult camp in 1983 through the development of the current juvenile camps. Several studies have surveyed the status of boot camps (Parent, 1989; MacKenzie and Souryal, 1991; Austin, Jones, and Bolyard, 1993; U.S. General Accounting Office, 1993; Cronin and Han, 1994). MacKenzie and Hebert’s Correctional Boot Camps: A Tough Intermediate Sanction, published by the National Institute of Justice in 1996, provides the most recent comprehensive assessment of the state of boot camps.

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Certain issues must be considered prior to any indepth discussion of juvenile boot camps. These issues include:A definition of boot camp.

The goals of juvenile boot camps.

Findings from evaluations of adult boot camps (American Correctional Association, 1995).

A definition of boot campThe very use of the term boot camp and its connotations are still being debated. The media tend to focus on the confrontational element of boot camps — the element that juvenile practitioners like the least. Dr. MacKenzie, who has been studying adult boot camps since 1987, holds that defining the term boot camp has been a major issue and remains one. Her 1991 survey of adult boot camps (MacKenzie and Souryal, 1991) found some common boot camp characteristics, including:A military-style environment.

Separation of boot camp participants from regular prison inmates when they are housed in collocated facilities.

The participants’ perception that boot camp is an alternative to a longer term of confinement.

Some hard labor (MacKenzie, 1991).

The most noteworthy finding from Dr. MacKenzie’s survey, however, was that boot camp programs differ widely, particularly with regard to the amount of time participants spend in therapeutic activity and in the aftercare they are provided (MacKenzie, 1991). The definition of boot camps given by OJP in 1995 is:Participation by nonviolent offenders only (to free up space in traditional facilities for violent felony offenders, i.e., those who have used dangerous weapons against another person, caused death or serious bodily injury, or committed serious sex offenses).

A residential phase of 6 months or less.

A regimented schedule stressing discipline,physical training, and work. Participation by inmates in appropriate education opportunities, job training, and substance abuse counseling or treatment.

Provision of aftercare services that arecoordinated with the program that is providedduring the period of confinement (Office of Justice Programs, 1995).

OJP has encouraged the consideration and development of innovative program delivery in this initiative, including designs that are in addition to or other than the military model (Office of Justice Programs, 1995), such as the Outward Bound model, environmental reclamation projects, and community service. The program guidelines also identify six key components to maximize the effectiveness of juvenile boot camp programs:Education and job training and placement.

Community service.

Substance abuse counseling and treatment.

Health and mental health care.

Continuous, individualized case management.

Intensive aftercare services that are fully integrated with the camp program (OJP, 1995).

Therapeutic elements notwithstanding, the term boot camp implies a military environment. The OJP program guidelines require a regimented schedule. Dr. Hamburg pointed out that although juveniles can benefit from the structure and discipline of the boot camp model, the different branches of the U.S. armed services provide different kinds of basic training, and there is an array of military and nonmilitary models to borrow from in designing

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