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Researchers Evaluate Eight Shock Incarceration Programs

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1994
2 pages
Publication Series
To determine how shock incarceration programs are operating and which objectives they are achieving, an evaluation was conducted for eight adult programs in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.
In addition to studying effects on recidivism and prison crowding, the evaluation examined the development and implementation of the programs, the attitude changes of offenders during the in-prison phase of the programs, and the impact of the programs on the positive activities of graduates during community supervision. In all eight programs, offenders participated in a rigorous daily schedule of military drill and ceremony, physical training, and hard labor. Program length ranged from 90 to 180 days. Program participants were generally young males convicted of nonviolent offenses who did not have an extensive criminal history. Programs differed in the type of therapeutic programming adopted as well as the hours per day devoted to such programming. They also varied in size, location (within a larger prison or in a separate facility), intensity of release supervision, and type of aftercare during community supervision. Recidivism rates of graduates of shock incarceration programs were generally similar to those of comparable offenders who spent a longer time in prison. The major factor that influenced prison bed savings was whether the boot camp program targeted prison-bound offenders. Unlike inmates incarcerated in conventional prisons, boot camp participants believed that their experience had been positive and that they had changed for the better. The more intensely offenders were supervised in the community, the better they adjusted.

Date Published: October 1, 1994