Effects of correctional boot camps on offending

DSpace Repository


URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/64634
Dokumentart: Article
Date: 2005-07
Source: Campbell Systematic Reviews, 6, 2005
Language: English
Faculty: Kriminologisches Repository
Kriminologisches Repository
Department: Kriminologie
DDC Classifikation: 360 - Social problems and services; associations
Keywords: Umerziehung
Other Keywords:
boot camp
post-release arrest
intensive incarceration
Show full item record


Background: Correctional boot camps were first opened in United States adult correctional systems in 1983. Since that time they have rapidly grown, first within adult systems and later in juvenile corrections, primarily within the United States. In the typical boot camp, participants are required to follow a rigorous daily schedule of activities including drill and ceremony and physical training, similar to that of a military boot-camp. Punishment for misbehavior is immediate and swift and usually involves some type of physical activity like push-ups. Boot-camps differ substantially in the amount of focus given to the physical training and hard labor aspects of the program versus therapeutic programming such as academic education, drug treatment or cognitive skills. Objectives: To synthesize the extant empirical evidence on the effects of boot-camps and boot camp like programs on the criminal behavior (e.g., postrelease arrest, conviction, or reinstitutionalization) of convicted adult and juvenile offenders. Search Strategy: Numerous electronic databases were searched for both published an unpublished studies. The keywords used were: boot camp(s), intensive incarceration, and shock incarceration. We also contacted U.S and non-U.S. researchers working in this area requesting assistance in locating additional studies. The final search of these sources was completed in early December of 2003. Selection Criteria: The eligibility criteria were (a) that the study evaluated a correctional boot camp, shock incarceration, or intensive incarceration program; (b) that the study included a comparison group that received either probation or incarceration in an alternative facility; (c) that the study participants were exclusively under the supervision of the criminal or juvenile justice system; and (d) that the study reported a post-program measure of criminal behavior, such as arrest or conviction. Data Collection and Analysis: The coding protocol captured aspects of the research design, including methodological quality, the boot-camp program, the comparison group condition, the participant offenders, the outcome measures and the direction and magnitude of the observed effects. All studies were coded by two independent coders and all coding differences were resolved by Drs. MacKenzie or Wilson. Outcome effects were coded using the odds-ratio and meta-analysis was performed using the random effects model. Main Results: Thirty-two unique research studies met our inclusion criteria. These studies reported the results from 43 independent boot-camp/comparison samples. The random effects mean odds-ratio for any form of recidivism was 1.02, indicating that the likelihood that boot camp participants recidivating was roughly equal to the likelihood of comparison participants recidivating. This overall finding was robust to the selection of the outcome measure and length of follow-up. Methodological features were only weakly related to outcome among these studies and did not explain the null findings. The overall effect for juvenile boot camps was slightly lower than for adult boot camps. Moderator analysis showed that studies evaluating boot-camp programs with a strong treatment focus had a larger mean odds-ratio than studies evaluating boot camps with a weak treatment focus. Conclusions: Although the overall effect appears to be that of “no difference,” some studies found that boot camp participants did better than the comparison, while others found that comparison samples did better. However, all of these studies had the common element of a militaristic boot camp program for offenders. The current evidence suggests that this common and defining feature of a boot-camp is not effective in reducing post boot-camp offending.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)