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Boot Camp Prisons and Recidivism in Eight States

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: (August 1995) Pages: 327-357
D L MacKenzie; R Brame; D McDowall; C Souryal
Date Published
31 pages
This article examines recidivism rates for offenders who complete boot camp programs and the rates for comparison group counterparts.
Recidivism reduction is an important objective of many correctional programs. Recent survey data suggest that boot camp prisons (also referred to as shock incarceration programs) are no exception. In this study, the authors examine recidivism among boot camp completers in eight States during community supervision. They then assess these recidivism patterns in light of how one or more comparison groups in each State perform. For most states, two or more recidivism measures (such as arrest, revocation, and revocation for new crimes or technical violations) are employed. All of the programs studied had military drill and ceremony, hard labor, physical training, and strict rules and discipline; these constitute the core components of boot camp prisons. If these components effectively reduce the recidivism of offenders, the authors consider that they would have observed a consistent pattern across States, a pattern of lower recidivism rates for boot camp graduates in contrast to those of the comparison groups. This did not occur, and the authors conclude that these components in and of themselves do not reduce the recidivism of participating offenders. Rather, program effectiveness must be judged on a State-by-State basis. Tables, footnotes, figures, references