Are Boot Camps Effective for Juvenile Offenders?

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chris cornett
English 1302
November 15, 2012
Are Boot Camps and Scared Straight Programs Effective for Juvenile Offenders? Boot camps were introduced in Louisiana in 1985 and dealt with juvenile offenders in the Orleans Parish. From existence of boot camps there has been major criticism and controversy on the issue. In 1954 a congressional bill was passed funding crime prevention in the states. 30 billion dollars were set aside for the crime bill and 8 billion was directed for funding prisons and boot camps. This bill contributed to a rapid number of boot camp programs in the U.S. After these significant events boot camp took a turn for the worse. Reports started to circulate claiming that young inmates were being mistreated and abused, in some cases even resulting to death. In 1998 The Justice Department released a critical report exploring three Georgia boot camps. The report found evidence that camp staff members had physically abused young inmates by placing them in chokeholds and throwing them into walls and did not provide the proper treatment for disabled and emotional disturbed children. The report resulted in Georgia’s decision to phase out of the boot camp system. The state of Maryland followed Georgia’s decision after The Baltimore Sun Newspaper documented abuse and high recidivism rates among former boot camp participants. Nearly one-third of all boot camps were shut down in 2002. In 2006 a teen by the name of Martin Lee Anderson died in a Florida boot camp after being beaten and abused for several days. Anderson was forced to inhale ammonia and died the following day; Martin’s family was awarded a five million dollar settlement. After Anderson’s death critics intensified their calls for having boot camps shut down.

Boot camps and scared straight programs have become popular again after the hit TV show Beyond Scared Straight premiered on A&E aiming to keep today’s at risk teens from being tomorrow’s prisoners. American parents have given up on teaching their children morals at home and have resulted to sending their children away to multiple juvenile programs when things get too stressful for them to handle. Although some studies have shown improvement in delinquents after completion of second chance programs most have proved to be ineffective. The main purposes of boot camps are to deter juveniles away from crime before it is too late and to offer juveniles a better life away from criminal behavior. Unfortunately all of these purposes are not met, while some boot camps have high completion rates they are still ineffective in deterring juveniles from crime. Critics of boot camps say these camps are often times too violent, poorly regulated places where staff members are free to inflict physical and psychological abuse on young people. There has been no evidence that suggest harsh punishment treatments curves criminal behavior. Scared Straight programs and boot camps have not proven to be effective in many cases and are just very dangerous wastes of money.

Many juveniles that are placed in boot camps and scared straight programs are not just bad or disobedient kids. In several cases teens with physical and emotional problems are placed into these situations as well. Having the right staff to take care of these troubled teens is one of the most important issues of boot camps. In an article by LaVaughn V. Jeter “Conduct Disorder: Are Boot Camps Effective? Jeter explains that the basic idea of boot camps is to correct disruptive behavior by imbedding behavior treatment in juveniles and emphasizing skill training as well as punishment. The intentions of boot camps are to shock juveniles into complying and exhibiting more pro-sociable behavior. Boot camps have not proven to be effective or appropriate for treating juvenile delinquents. One of the main issues of boot camps are the cost, they can range from $6,421 to $14,021 per adolescent depending on location, duration of time and after care programs...
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