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Developing the Mature Coping Skills of Criminal Offenders: The Impact of Boot Camp Interventions

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1997
58 pages
Most boot camps in the United States contend they have a rehabilitative focus, yet deficiencies of extant treatment programs in most boot camps have been extensively detailed.
Moreover, while evaluative research suggests the limited utility of boot camp programs in changing post-release offender behavior, the same research has not been able to discern precisely why desired program impacts on offender recidivism have not been realized. The impact of boot camp programs on a number of intermediate outcomes often articulated as being key targets in the offender change process was assessed at four sites in relation to offender self-esteem, coping strategies, social problem solving, antisocial attitudes, and depression. The four sites in Pennsylvania, California, Washington, and Arizona included two juvenile programs and two adult programs that differed on several major dimensions but de-emphasized the military model and included fairly innovative program components. Each program focused on promoting the mature coping of program participants. Pre- and post-test scores on psychological measures administered to samples of program participants were used to evaluate program impact on intermediate outcomes. It was found three of the four programs were associated with the improved mature coping of program graduates. In general, positive program impact was not confined to certain age or ethnic subgroups. Surprisingly, the traditional military boot camp appeared to generate improvements that paralleled those found in two of the other programs. Implications of the findings for the offender change process in boot camps and for boot camp outcome evaluations are highlighted. 30 references, 12 tables, and 1 figure

Date Published: January 1, 1997