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Multi-Site Evaluation of Boot Camp Programs, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2000
116 pages
This reports summarizes the results of various evaluations of the impact of eight boot camp programs, along with their structure and operations.
The evaluations show that boot camp programs are not having the impact on offenders or corrections in accordance with expectations. Although many of the programs have been well-administered and popular with public officials, they have not demonstrated a significant impact on recidivism, prison or jail crowding, or costs, which have been the three core goals of boot camps. The lack of impact on recidivism is probably due to the fact that many boot camp participants are low-risk as a result of the selection criteria used by correctional agencies and the courts in establishing eligibility for boot-camp admission. Another factor that diminishes the recidivism effect is the lack of treatment "dosage." Although many boot camp participants improve their educational levels and "pro-social values," these levels of improvement are not sufficient to overcome the more powerful social and economic forces that facilitated their involvement in criminal activities. It does not appear that the promise of "aftercare services" has added much to the lack of treatment effects. Regarding averted cost savings, these programs are too small to capture a sufficient "market share" of the prison or jail population to have an impact on population growth and the associated operating and construction costs. Furthermore, boot camps tend to be more staff and program service intensive than traditional correctional facilities. This report concludes that the future of boot camps is not promising; however, it is unlikely that they will disappear completely, as long as they offer a setting where low-risk offenders can be exposed to a more intense level of services in a safe correctional environment, while not being overly expensive to operate, regardless of their limited therapeutic and cost benefits. 24 tables and 84 references

Date Published: August 1, 2000