Criminal Justice Bootcamp Programs for Term Paper

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The sources provided background and reviews of published literature: Holmstrom (1996); Marcus-Mendoza (1995); and Osler (1991). Finally, three reports took on a narrower focus in investigating boot camps: Clark and Kellam (2001); Mueller (1996); and Souryal, Layton & MacKenzie (1994).

Burns and Vito (1995) examined the effectiveness of Alabama boot camps. In Alabama, overcrowded prisons brought on interest at the state level for prison boot camps. State prison boot camps incorporated marching, discipline, physical training, work, classes, and drug and alcohol abuse treatment in three phases. In the first phase, inmates confront their crime and take responsibility for it, ridding themselves of excuses. In the second phase, inmates focus on "self-discovery" by learning about themselves, goal planning, and improving themselves for future release. In the third phase, pre-release, inmates focus on problem solving as the key to their own future success as a lawful citizen upon release. Entry and participation were voluntary once inmates were found to be eligible. Burns and Vito (1995) report that 25% of boot camp participants leave the program, returning to a normal length sentence in a regular prison.

The administrative goals of the Alabama program were: rehabilitating prisoners, breaking the cycle of crime and recidivism, and reducing prison costs through early release and lower recidivism. Critics were concerned about "net widening." Additionally, skepticism existed over whether such programs actually save the state correctional system money (Burns & Vito, 1995).

This study found that "net widening" was not a problem in Alabama state programs. Researchers also found that there was not a significant difference in recidivism between boot camp graduates, individuals released on probation, and individuals who served regular sentences. In other words, the boot camp program did not effectively reduce recidivism in participants. However the early release program did lower inmate crowding and save the state money. Burns and Vito (1995) estimate that $779,229 to $1,676,880 was saved through the use of boot camps when comparing the cost of actual prisoner maintenance.

Christenberry, Burns and Dickinson (1994) specifically investigated the successfulness of educational components in Arkansas state-run boot camp programs for the year of 1992. Inmates entered and left the boot camp voluntarily if they were eligible, and came from a wide range of offences, races, ages, and education. The goals of the program were to reduce recidivism by providing life skills and tools for living lawfully once released. Focuses included confidence, personal responsibility, respect for others, and education. Education components were mandatory and consisted of peer tutoring or independent work. Researchers concluded that educational components were responsible for advances in arithmetic, reading, and spelling for all inmates. On average, inmates gained one and a half years of grade level achievement in arithmetic and reading over their 105 days in the program. Spelling was improved by one year grade level on average during the same period. Significantly, black inmates had more substantial gains in reading than other groups. Researchers concluded that educational goals within the Arkansas boot camp programs were successful.

Clark, Aziz and MacKenzie (1994) studied the effectiveness of New York state's shock incarceration camps. At the time of the study, New York had the largest number of inmates in boot camps, as well as the largest number of female boot camp participants. The camps worked under two legislatively mandated goals. First, the camps must treat and release selected inmates of earlier than they would normally be released by their original court-mandated minimum period of jail time. This must be done without endangering the safety of the public. Second, shock incarceration camps must reduce the need for prison bedspace. To avoid net-widening, judges cannot sentence offenders directly to shock incarceration camps. Entry and exit are voluntary if requirements are met. To ensure public safety, focus within NY shock incarceration camps is on treatment. As such, NY's program has an extensive internal and aftercare program. Both offer drug and alcohol treatment, relapse prevention, family counseling, job training and placement, and support. The after care program, dubbed "After Shock," provides support services for released individuals to ease re-assimilation into society. Focus in on personal responsibility, responsibility for actions taken, and for your own quality of life (Clark, Aziz & MacKenzie, 1994).

Researchers established that the New York camps reduced care and custody costs by shortening terms of confinement. Clark, Aziz and MacKenzie (1994) estimated a savings of $2 million for every 100 camp graduates. Like Christenberry, Burns and Dickinson (1994), they also found that graduates increased reading and math skills by more than one grade level over their camp stay (Clark, Aziz & MacKenzie, 1994). Additionally, researchers observed the rare result of reduced recidivism in shock incarceration graduates. Compared at both 12 and 24 months after incarceration, to those who had been paroled before the program, those who were not eligible, and those who dropped out of the program, shock incarceration graduates were less likely to return to jail. This was based on research conducted by multiple camps within the New York state correctional system (Clark, Aziz & MacKenzie, 1994).

In a review of its own correctional programming, the Wyoming Department of Corrections (n.d.) reports that boot camps in the state have been an effective means of reforming first-time offenders. Wyoming's programming focuses on cognitive restructuring to change attitudes and assumptions in first-time male offenders under the age of 25. Inmates must be recommended to the program by a judge, and must return after boot camp for sentence modification. In most cases, completion of boot camp results in early release. Wyoming's boot camps teach self-esteem and self-worth through physical training. Additionally, the program focuses on coping with grief, anger and stress, as well as goal setting, reality clarification, parenting, and rational emotive training. The Wyoming Department of Corrections (n.d.) reports that two years after graduation from correctional boot camps, 74% of graduates did not return to prison.

Burton and Marquart (1993) report on the only county run boot camp research available for this report. The authors look mostly at young first time felony offenders in a Texas county prison. Researchers felt that boot camps were the result of a desire to meld the public's desire for criminal punishment with the overall goal of rehabilitating offenders and reintegrating them into society safely. Specifically, the program desired to lessen the effects of total institutionalization and reduce the cost of long-term incarceration. Drug counseling and treatment were offered, along with help in coping, self-control and respect for self and others. Researchers polled participants before and after the program to establish whether their attitudes and ideas about the program and themselves had changed. Following the program, inmates were found to have increased respect for superiors, including probation officers and boot camp staff. Inmates also had more faith in drug and alcohol treatment, had better feelings about their ability to function in society, and had greater self-control and coping skills. AIDS education was the only area where inmates attitude did not change in a positive manner. Though this program focused on the attitudes of inmates participating in the county boot camp, it also commented on recidivism. Burton and Marquart (1993) contend that even programs successful in changing inmate attitudes need strong aftercare programming to reduce recidivism in former boot camp participants.

The only study of a federally run boot camp, or "Intensive Confinement Center" (ICC), included in this paper is Klein-Saffran and Chapman (1993). Here researchers identified the goals and investigated the success of a federal ICC in Pennsylvania. The goal of the Pennsylvania boot camp was to change offenders' behavior and internal motivations to discourage future criminal involvement. In examining this program, researchers were identifying what factors contribute to success (long-term avoidance of re-incarceration) of released inmates from these boot camp programs. The program lasted 180 days, longer than the average boot camp program. Only minimum security risk inmates were considered, and inmates could not be older than 35. Individuals may opt out or be kicked out for poor behavior. Those who finish the first stage are released to the Community Corrections Center (CCC) closest to their home. Inmates live at the CCC and gain freedoms over time as they demonstrate their ability to act lawfully and responsibly. Their time at the CCC depends on their original sentence and their progress in the program. Researchers found that three factors contributed to successful rehabilitation: institutional experience; community involvement; and offenders' actions and choices. This study did not address the actual success of the program as that was not its intention.

Of the three multi-site boot camp comparisons, Ashcroft, Daniels and Hart (2003) stood out as the most recent and most comprehensive. The study offered a decade of comparative research on boot camps and provided suggestion for future changed. The study concluded that boot camps offered mixed results. Positive results included: short-term change of attitude and behavior of participants; better problem solving and coping skills in participants; lower recidivism in camps where treatment and education services were offered. However, negative results were the overall failure (on average) of camps to reduce…[continue]

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