The Effectiveness of Probation Boot Camps

Topics: Recidivism, Prison, Young offender Pages: 8 (2932 words) Published: January 4, 2012
How Effective Are Probation Boot Camps?
Probation Boot Camps
Probation boot camps refer to correctional centers that follow a military essential training model, which emphasizes discipline as well as physical conditioning. They are based on shock incarceration and military techniques, and are aimed at assisting young offenders. The first known boot camp was started in 1971 in Idaho though their popularity did not start until 1983 when they were created in Oklahoma and Georgia in 1983 (Cullen, Belvins Kennedy, and Trager 56). Several needs were attributed to the rise in popularity of these boot camps. The first was the need to develop intermediate punishments that would punish young offenders. This was because the society did not desire to let these offenders go on probation and yet these offenders did not deserve to be imprisoned either. This prompted the rise of intermediate sentencing options such as community correction centers, house arrest, intensive community supervision and boot camps hence providing judges with a wider choice of alternatives when deciding on the appropriate punishment for an offender. Of these, policy makers considered boot camps a relatively cheaper alternative and thus it was adopted. In addition, these camps would help solve the problem of overcrowding the American prisons as well as supporting the need to curb crime, a major theme during the Regan period in the 1980s. As such, boot camps had to be more harsh and restrictive as compared to normal probation and at the same time be less difficult and restrictive as compared to prison. The intention was to reform offenders by instilling military discipline in them. These reasons resulted in the adoption of boot camps by governments in view of the fact that the principles of a just judgment towards an offender with a minor crime appealed to most liberals. They also appealed to conservatives due to the toughness of these camps hence resulting in a bipartisan support for these boot camps (Cullen, Belvins Kennedy, and Trager 61). The popularity of boot camps also arose because most people believed that the discipline that offenders would get from the military-like experience would help change the young offenders who were deemed to be immature and wayward and make them better, well behaved mature citizens who could contribute to the development of the nation. They were therefore seen as an immediate fix to the problems facing parents with wayward teenagers enabling them to become upright and productive without having to send them to prisons. The Boot Camp Program

The normal program in a boot camp involves the participants waking up before dawn, cleaning their living quarters, getting dressed quickly and then marching in pace to a common exercise area. They then begin performing exercises accompanied by running for about an hour and then proceed back to their quarters to cleanup before having their breakfast. The participants then march to breakfast where they are required to stand at parade rest as they get served. They are required to stand at attention and they only get to sit when ordered to do so after which they have their breakfast in silence. After breakfast, the participants undertake a strict regimen of hard physical labor varying from six to eight hours and involve such activities as cleaning public utilities such as public roads and state parks. Those that work fewer hours in the morning may return for additional work in the afternoon, undertake additional physical exercises, or undergo basic military drill and ceremony practice. Dinner is followed by a series of rehabilitation programs lasting up to nine in the evening after which they go to their dormitories. They are required to ensure that their clothes are clean and shoes shined for the next morning before sleeping. These boot camps place very strict requirements on the eligible participants whom are evaluated...
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