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Boot Camps: Mixed Results

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 65 Issue: 7 Dated: December 2003 Pages: 142-144
Date Published
December 2003
3 pages

This article reports on the mixed results of evaluations of "boot camps," which, in their original form, were in-prison programs that imitate the structure and military-style discipline of basic training, emphasizing physical activity, drill exercises and ceremony, manual labor, and other activities that reduce a participant's free time.


A National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 10-year study of boot camp data found that the camps improved inmates' negative attitudes and behavior during the time in the c however, these changes, with few exceptions, did not reduce recidivism, prison costs, and prison populations. Suggested reasons for this poor outcome from the camps include insufficient time to prepare participants for reentry, conflicting policies or unrealistic goals, and the lack of a standard treatment model. Although they are now less prevalent, boot camps persist, perhaps because camp administrators now have more realistic expectations; some camps, as recommended by evaluations, have added treatment services and modified their extreme discipline tactics. There is evidence that the in-prison camps have reduced inmate misconduct and violence while in prison. Correctional administrators and program designers should determine, based on costs and needs, which options are best for which types of inmates in their jurisdictions.

Date Published: December 1, 2003