Bootcamp Programs Term Paper

Pages: 20 (5841 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 23  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice

Bootcamp Programs

For the past two decades significant money and time have been put toward the implementation of prison boot camp programs, sometimes called shock incarceration. Often costing more money per inmate per day, shock incarceration programs hope to save money in the long run by reducing recidivism and prison overcrowding. Mixed reviews in the media have called attention to flaws in these programs, both in their inception and inability to meet their own goals (Burton & Marquart, 1993). However, some programs do seem to work. This study intends to review the available research and data to establish whether prison boot camps are more successful than general incarceration for young adults.

The idea of shock incarceration is to "shock" young, usually first time, offenders into reforming. Programs use military style drills, hard work, physical training, and strict regulations to reprogram young men and women (Burns & Vito, 1995). In many cases, additional training, education, and counseling are available or mandatory for inmates in the programs. The idea behind this additional training is to give inmates more opportunities for lawful behavior and employment once they are released.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Bootcamp Programs Assignment

In trying to identify whether a boot camp program is successful, it is necessary to clearly delineate what success means. This is not difficult in the case of prison boot camps, as most individual programs set goals based on state, county, or federal mandates. Additionally, administrators of individual programs might have some control over how programs are developed and run. The primary goal of shock incarceration programs is to reduce recidivism and lessen prison overcrowding. Reducing recidivism adds up to fewer crimes committed, but may also reduce prison overcrowding and long prison sentences, thereby saving taxpayer dollars. Therefore, when identifying the success or failure of a prison boot camp program it is necessary to identify whether recidivism has been reduced when compared to inmates who did not participate in the prison boot camp system. Then, it must be established whether the boot camp program reduced the number of individuals incarcerated in the regular prison system. Finally, it is also important to identify whether an individual program's goals are being met.

This paper will review available research concerning boot camp / shock incarceration programs with the goal of compiling and evaluating the available data concerning success. To do this, it will first be necessary to review the background and groundwork behind prison boot camp / shock incarceration programs. This will be discussed in Section II. Next, Section III will examine the methodology of this study, outlining the methods used in compiling and evaluating the data at hand. Section IV will identify the results of the review of pertinent literature. Section V will review the effectiveness of the programs illustrated and reviewed in section IV, with the purpose of identifying key elements of success or failure in prison boot camps. The data will be discussed and outcomes established in section VI. Finally, Section VII will state conclusions, as well as areas in need of additional information or study.

II. History of Boot Camp Programs

The first modern boot camps used by a correctional facility in the United States occurred in Oklahoma and Georgia in 1983 (MacKenzie and Corbett, 1994). The camps were designed in response to prison overcrowding and the need to mediate the growing prison population and the desire to rehabilitate prisoners without appearing "soft" on crime. Boot camps were given positive feedback by the media and public as they focused on reforming young offenders who could be transformed and "fixed" rather than put away for years at the tax payers' expense (Osler, 1991). By 1994, 46 boot camps existed in 31 states. By 1995, 75 state run boot camps and 18 county / locally run boot camps were operating (Ashcroft, Daniels & Hart, 2003). In the late 1990s, research began indicating that recidivism rates were not lower due to boot camps and they became subject to increased public scrutiny. Many camps closed. In 2000, 51 camps existed for adult corrections in the United States (Ashcroft, Daniels & Hart, 2003).

In general, the idea behind boot camp / shock incarceration programs is to "shock" young, usually first time offenders into realizing that they want to live lawfully rather than criminally. The programs use harsh military-style treatment, including cognitive restructuring, teamwork, and intense physical training to improve inmates mentally and physically. Most programs have an upward age cap of 25 or lower. Additionally, most programs require inmates to have been sentenced to a specific term (such as three years or less) and be eligible for parole within a few years' time. Inmates are normally considered for boot camp programs only if they have been convicted of non-violent crimes, such as drug crimes or burglary (Burns & Vito, 1995; Ashcroft, Daniels & Hart, 2003). Some camps are voluntary, while others "draft" regular prison inmates without their prior consent. In voluntary programs, inmates can usually opt-out or quit the program, or they may be removed for misconduct or failure to participate satisfactorily (Clark, Aziz & MacKenzie, 1994).

There are a number of common criticisms surrounding boot camp incarceration programs. As has been already noted, some questions whether boot camps effectively meet their goals of lessened recidivism and tax dollar savings. Others are concerned about the psychological and physical rigors of the camps, particularly for women inmates (Clark and Kellam, 2001). One prominent concern, however, is that the existence of boot camps will actually result in more incarcerated individuals. This is called "net widening" (Burns & Vito, 1995).

Net widening" is when individuals who would otherwise get probation or fines are mandated by judges or others to boot camp incarceration instead. The idea is that boot camp will teach young offenders a lesson. However, sending young offenders to boot camp who would not otherwise be within the prison system negates the financial viability of the program. In other words, the financial benefits of boot camps would be lost if extra individuals were added to the system only because boot camps existed. This process can be avoided if judges are not given the power to send individuals to boot camp as punishment. Rather, it can be recommended by judges or left in the hands of prison administrators instead (Burns & Vito, 1995; Clark, Aziz & MacKenzie, 1994).

III. Methodology

This study is a compiling and assessment of available information regarding shock incarceration. Compiling and assessing data available literature is the most effective means of study in this specific field, unless significant funding allows long-term research and access to multiple boot camp sites. As this is a smaller study attempting to assess the overall state and effectiveness of boot camps, methods included the careful search for and assessment of information sources.

When considering the best way to compile and assess the data relating to boot camps and shock incarceration, it was necessary to focus on the best possible sources available. Eliminating sources that offered repetitive information was necessary, as many studies or state reports covered the same programs and provided the same results. Instead, this report comprises a collection of data from a variety or sources and types of sources. In this way, research results from a variety of sources could be compared to one another to establish real trends and separate them from coincidences inherent in fluke cases.

Efforts were made to include both governmental and private research. Similarly, governmental sources were both federal and state produced. Sources were chosen that illustrated programs in a variety of states. Many studies were chosen because they closely monitored one program, its successes and failure. Others were chosen because they described and compared programs in multiple states. Boot camps run by states, counties, and federal corrections services are all covered in the research. To further learn about successes and other possibilities within boot camp programs, articles explaining women, drug abuse, and the background of boot camps were also collected and chosen accordingly.

IV. Results

In the comparison and compiling of data for this study, it was important to find connections between the available information so that it could be properly viewed. The literature reviewed here can be broken down and compared in many ways. Both governmentally produced and private studies were used, as were other pertinent sources. Governmentally produced sources were most helpful in assessing the current use of boot camps, since they monitor such programs and must report on their findings; private studies have become much less frequent over the last decade as public interest has waned. Results of the studies reviewed have been broken down into the type of information each contains.

Four sources looked at state-run boot camps: Burns & Vito (1995); Christenberry, Burns, & Dickinson (1994); Clark, Aziz, and MacKenzie (1994); WY Department of Corrections (n.d.). One source, Burton and Marquart (1993), investigated a county-run program. Klein-Saffran and Chapman (1993) investigated a federally run boot camp in Pennsylvania. Three sources offered comparisons in multi-site evaluations: MacKenzie and Corbett (1994); MacKenzie and Souryal (1994); and Ashcroft, Daniels and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Bootcamp Programs" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Bootcamp Programs.  (2006, July 20).  Retrieved October 17, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Bootcamp Programs."  20 July 2006.  Web.  17 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Bootcamp Programs."  July 20, 2006.  Accessed October 17, 2021.