Program

Nov 10, 2009

OVERVIEW

The boot camp programs attempt to rehabilitate juvenile offenders through military-style residential treatment. Adjudicated delinquent, nonviolent juveniles under the age of 18 at three different sites were randomly assigned to either boot camp or a sentence of detention. No significant differences were reported for any of the three sites. In Cleveland and Denver, the boot camp group recidivated more, on average, than the control group, but the control group was more likely to commit a new offense sooner. In Mobile, the findings were reversed: the control group was more likely to recidivate, but the boot camp group was more likely to offend sooner.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target Population: adjudicated, nonviolent juvenile male offenders under age 18 and at high risk of chronic delinquency

Boot camp involves a strict schedule in a residential treatment setting and participants are separate from regular prison inmates. There is also an element of treatment, education, and life skills involved. The adolescents in this study had three months of residential boot camp then 6-9 months of community-based aftercare. Aftercare included being monitored by an officer of the court and could include attendance of groups.

In the residential phase, Cleveland put a greater emphasis on treatment and the military aspects were secondary to it. Denver mostly focused on the military aspect, while treatment, education, and life skills were also included. Mobile had the greatest emphasis on education. For the structure of Mobile’s program, the military and treatment conditions were about equally stressed. This site also included environmental awareness and outdoor activities.

In the three sites, Cleveland, Denver, and Mobile, boot camp was created through public-private partnerships unique to each area. After random assignment, the experimental-group teens entered boot camps in “platoons” of 10 every month, and the control-group teens carried out their disposition as decided by the judge. The three camps emphasized military exercise and treatment differently. All camps began with a confrontational period that is aimed to result in discomfort and to empower the young people to change their behaviors.

Aftercare also varied by site. All aftercare involved reaching goals like finishing school and finding a job. Points are earned when smaller goals, steps toward the overall goal, are met.

Program Cost Table:
Experimental versus Control groups, by Site

Site Experimental/ Boot Camp Control*Program 1 Control*Program 2
Cleveland total $14,021 $25,549 $28,004
Denver total $8,141 $23,425 $944
Mobile total $6,241 $11,616 $516

* For Cleveland,
Program 1 is the Ohio Department of Youth Services and Program 2 is the Youth Development Center. For Denver, Program 1 is confinement and Program 2 is under a period of probation instead of a program of aftercare. For Mobile, Program 1 is confinement and Program 2 is probation only without confinement.

EVALUATIONS OF PROGRAM

STUDY 1: CLEVELAND

Peters, M., Thomas, D., & Zamberlan, C. (1997). Boot camps for juvenile offenders. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evaluated Population: Among the 182 adolescents assigned to this site, 35 percent were 15 or younger and none were younger than 14 years old. Most of the experimental group at this site were African American, and 20 percent were white. About 1 percent were Hispanic and 1 percent were “other race.” Most at this site had two or more prior adjudications, then one then none (63 percent, 28 percent, and 9 percent, respectively). Many adolescents had committed a property offense prior to boot camp (40 percent).

Approach: The adolescents participating were sentenced and then randomly assigned to either boot camp or carrying out their regular sentence.For all three sites, recidivism was measured as a new offense after release from confinement and the adolescent had been adjudicated (a decision/order/judgment had been made). Number of days to a new offense after release was recorded. Official records on new offenses and technical violations (such as violations of probation) were collected, but technical violations were not factored into the results.

Results: The boot camp group was more likely to recidivate (72 percent) than the control group (50 percent) by committing a new offense. Significance was not reported, but the effect size is 0.46. The control group was more likely to commit a new offense more quickly than the boot camp group (205 days versus 176 days). Academic skill tests were administered in Cleveland and Mobile at baseline and then three months later. Sixty-eight percent of youth who graduated boot camp improved at least one grade level in reading skills; 60 percent of graduates improved at least one grade level in math; and 56 percent improved at least one grade level in spelling. Note again that no significance tests were done.

STUDY 2: DENVER

Peters, M., Thomas, D., & Zamberlan, C. (1997). Boot camps for juvenile offenders. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evaluated Population:About one out of every four of the 124 adolescents at this site was Hispanic. About one out of every three adolescents was black and one out of every three was white. The rest were classified as “other race” or “unknown race.” Fifty-eight percent entered this site with one prior adjudication, with two or more coming in second (58 percent versus 42 percent). None came without a prior adjudication. Most adolescents had committed a property offense prior to boot camp (69 percent).

Approach: See Study 1 list for measures and information on randomization..

Results: At this site, the boot camp group was more likely to recidivate than the control group (39 percent versus 36 percent) by committing a new offense. This difference is negligible (d=0.06) and no significance test was done. The control group was more likely to commit a new offense more quickly than the boot camp group (275 days versus 248 days). Again, no significance tests were performed.

STUDY 3: MOBILE

Peters, M., Thomas, D., & Zamberlan, C. (1997). Boot camps for juvenile offenders. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Evaluated Population:The 187 adolescents at this site were mostly age 15 or younger, 15 percent were age 13. About two out of every three adolescents were black and the rest were white. Most came to this site with two or more prior adjudications (70 percent). Twenty-one percent came with one prior adjudication, and 9 percent came with none. Half of the adolescents had committed a property offense prior to boot camp (50 percent).

Approach: See Study 1 list for measures and information on randomization.

Results: At this site, the control group was more likely to recidivate (31 percent) than the boot camp group (28 percent) by committing a new offense (d=0.07). The boot camp group was more likely to commit a new offense more quickly than the control group (156 days until new offense versus 232 days). Both findings are lacking significance tests. Eighty-eight percent of graduating youth improved at least one grade level in language and reading skills; 85 percent in math skills; and 77 percent in spelling (the spelling number excludes those who had no room for improvement at baseline).

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Peters, M., Thomas, D., & Zamberlan, C. (1997). Boot camps for juvenile offenders. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/164258.pdf

KEYWORDS:
Adolescence (12-17); Community-based; Externalizing Problems; Delinquency (e.g., truancy, vandalism, theft, assault, etc); Juvenile Offenders; Male.

Program information last updated 11/10/09