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Outcome Evaluation of Pennsylvania's Boot Camp: Does Rehabilitative Programming Within a Disciplinary Setting Reduce Recidivism?

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 49 Issue: 4 Dated: October 2003 Pages: 581-602
Cynthia A. Kempinen; Megan C. Kurlychek
Date Published
October 2003
22 pages
This article examined whether correctional boot camps that incorporate a rehabilitative model are effective at reducing recidivism among offenders.
Correctional boot camp programs gained popularity during the 1990’s because they were viewed as being tough on crime. Despite their popularity with the public, correctional boot camps that embrace a disciplinary model have been found to be ineffective at reducing recidivism among offenders. However, many boot camps embrace a rehabilitative model; their effect on recidivism remains unclear. To address the effectiveness of rehabilitative boot camps in reducing recidivism, the authors conducted an outcome evaluation of Pennsylvania’s Motivational Boot Camp Program, which offers a multidisciplinary approach to its rehabilitative programming. The authors hypothesized that this program model would be more effective at reducing recidivism than traditional prison, particularly among certain high-risk offenders, such as young offenders and repeat offenders. The study employed a quasi-experimental design and involved 1,004 offenders, some of whom were in the control group of offenders that did not participate in the boot camp program despite their eligibility for inclusion. Results of logistic regression analysis revealed that there were no significant differences in recidivism rates between those who graduated from the boot camp program and those who were released from prison. However, upon further investigation of interaction effects, it was discovered that the rehabilitative model of boot camp was more effective at reducing recidivism than prison among offenders with a prior criminal record. The results suggest that boot camp should be targeted to certain types of offenders in order to affect recidivism rates. Tables, notes, references