Read the section on boot camps in text including section on representative boot camps. Watch following videos and read summary below. Answer the following in paragraph form.
- Are juvenile boot camps a valid form of treatment for juvenile offenders?
- What do you think are their pros and cons?
- What type of offender would they best serve?
- Would they have worked with you if you were sentenced to boot camp when you were 16 years-old?
Review the following
What are juvenile boot camps?
Juvenile boot camps are correctional programs for delinquent youth in a military-style environment. These programs typically emphasize discipline and physical conditioning and were developed as a rigorous alternative to longer terms of confinement in juvenile correctional facilities. Many, but not all, of these programs are followed by a period of probation or some form of aftercare. Boot camps are generally restricted to non-violent or first-time offenders.
Are boot camps effective?
Boot camps do not reduce recidivism. Numerous studies of adult and juvenile boot camps have shown that graduates do no better in terms of recidivism than offenders who were incarcerated or, in some cases, than those sentenced to regular probation supervision. In fact, some researchers have found that boot camp graduates are more likely to be re-arrested or are re-arrested more quickly than other offenders.
Boot camps may not be cost effective. Although some boot camps enable jurisdictions to save money because youth serve shorter sentences, others have found that the extra costs of operating boot camps outweigh the benefits. For example, boot camps tend to be more labor intensive and more expensive to operate. If youth are sentenced to a boot camp when they could have been placed in probation or a community-based program, jurisdictions are actually losing money.
Experts agree that a confrontational approach is not appropriate. Most correctional and military experts agree that a confrontational model, employing tactics of intimidation and humiliation, is counterproductive for most youth in the juvenile justice system. The use of this kind of model has led to disturbing incidents of abuse. For youth of color (who represent the vast majority of the juveniles sentenced to boot camps)-as well as for youth with emotional, behavioral, or learning problems-degrading tactics may be particularly inappropriate and potentially damaging. The bullying style and aggressive interactions that characterize the boot camp environment fail to model the pro-social behavior and development of empathy that these youth really need to learn.
Positive changes demonstrated while in the program may not last when a youth returns to his community. Many adult and juvenile offenders sentenced to boot camps report that the program is helpful to them and they feel more positive about their futures. It is unclear, however, whether these attitudinal changes persist after youth leave the boot camp, or whether they are related to actual changes in behavior once a youth returns to his community. Without significant therapeutic intervention while in the program, as well as specialized aftercare following release, boot camp programs have been consistently unsuccessful in “rehabilitating” juvenile or adult offenders.
Boot camps are not a “quick fix.” Most boot camps have high drop-out rates (as many as half fail to graduate in some programs), and staff in at least one juvenile program have expressed concern that too many youth lack the maturity and self-control to succeed in a military-style program. After leaving boot camp, youth are not prepared for productive lives in their communities. The Office of Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice has suggested that, for boot camps to be effective, they must incorporate a full range of rehabilitative services and programs, including education, substance abuse treatment, individualized case management, and mental health care. Clearly, the idea of “shock incarceration” as a tough, low-cost alternative to more intensive juvenile justice programming has not been borne out by our 15 years of experience with boot camps across
What is the alternative?
Youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system require an individualized approach that takes their strengths and needs into account. Programs and policies should be family-centered, including the family in all decision making about a child, as well as culturally and developmentally appropriate. Research has shown that small, community-based programs are more effective and less costly than correctional institutions, for the majority of children who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Rather than removing children from their families and communities, which only increases their difficulties and sense of marginalization, most youth can be managed in their communities while they receive a full range of rehabilitative services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment.