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Correctional Boot Camps: Lessons From a Decade of Research

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2003
17 pages
This report reviews 10 years of data that have been analyzed to measure the effectiveness of correctional boot camps in meeting their stated goals.
The goals of boot camps are to improve an inmate's attitudes and behaviors so as to reduce the likelihood of recidivism, as well as to reduce prison populations and costs. Each boot camp studied over the 10-year period had a different design. This lack of uniformity made it difficult to assess which components were and were not successful; also, each study used a different method of evaluating the program. The studies produced mixed results. Participants in the boot camps reported positive short-term changes in attitudes and behaviors. Problem-solving and coping skills also improved; however, with few exceptions, these positive changes did not translate into reduced recidivism. The boot camps that did produce lower recidivism rates provided more treatment services, had longer periods of participation, and involved more intensive postrelease supervision. Still, not all programs with these characteristics had successful outcomes. Further, the study concluded that under a narrow set of conditions, boot camps can produce small relative reductions in prison populations and correctional costs. Programs that offered substantial discounts in time served to those who completed boot camps and which chose candidates sentenced to serve longer terms were the most successful in reducing prison populations. 20 notes and 24 references

Date Published: July 1, 2003