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National’s Youth “Fresh Start” Programme promising

National’s Youth “Fresh Start” Programme promising - but don’t call them Bootcamps –Rethinking

The public must be discouraged from labelling National’s “Fresh Start” programme as a “boot camp”, said Kim Workman, Project Leader, Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

“Within hours of the announcement of National’s Youth Policy, TV One referred to the proposed ‘Fresh Start Programme’, as a ‘Boot camp’. If media staff had read the policy, they would have realised that John Key was careful to avoid comparison with “Scared Straight” or “bootcamp” experiences. The successful programs of this kind, such as the ‘Pro-Active Venture in Papatoetoe, and the Limited Services Volunteers Program at Burnham, bear no resemblance to the old style boot camps, which believed that a negative, punishment oriented, “short, sharp shock” was the answer.”

“Anyone who thinks that might work, should read Greg Newbold’s account in “The Problem with Prisons”. Greg spenmt time in the New Zealand version of a bootcamp - a Detention Centre. The sentence later called Corrective Training, was a dismal failure. A Justice Department research in 1983, showed that 71% of the youth reoffended within 12 months of release. A recent international review of prisons and bootcamps confirms earlier research – that they have no positive impact on offenders, and usually result in an increase in recidivism.”

“‘Fresh Start’ on the other hand, promises to use the most advanced expertise in youth offending that New Zealand has to offer, and describes an environment which provides a mix of accountability and support. While it’s a bit of a stretch to call the programme ‘revolutionary”, the concept is good, and based on sound behavioural change principles”.

“One of the reasons for the failure of earlier programs of this kind has been the lack of support and mentoring after the offender completes the sentence. The policy has recognised this as an issue, and that’s a promising start.


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