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Boot Camps no more than "Correctional Quackery"

Boot Camps nothing more than "Correctional Quackery"

The military style " Fresh Start" programme is a boot camp "add-on" and unlikely to work. That's the view of Kim Workman, Project Director, Rethinking Crime and Punishment.

"Boot camps and their variants are known in the profession as "correctional quackery" - they satisfy the desire to punish, but fail to produce a result."

"New Zealand set up its first "boot camps" in 1971, with the introduction of Detention Centres. They were abandoned in 1981 and replaced with corrective training. Both were classic in-prison programs that resembled military basic training. In 1983, a Department of Justice study found that 71% of corrective trainees were reconvicted within the first year of release. The number of USA bootcamps reduced by a third between 1995 and 2000, because they didn't work. The most recent of many reviews into the efficacy of boot camps, confirms earlier research - they have no positive impact on offenders, and often result in an increase in recidivism."

"The idea of sandwiching the military experience in between mentoring, behavioural intervention, and aftercare is not new. Known as "second generation" bootcamps in the USA, they also failed. The problem is that a top-down, militaristic regime is in direct opposition to the type of relationships and supportive conditions that are needed for quality therapeutic programs. The confrontational nature of boot camps works against the environment necessary to bring about behavioural change."

"The government promised it would consult with experts on youth rehabilitation, when designing 'Fresh Start'. It should take a closer look at programmes like that run by Dr Ian Lambie and shown on the TV One programme "The Outsiders". That programme showed what could be done when there is a proven therapeutic model in place, overseen by people who know what they are doing. Such programmes aim to inspire young offenders to put direction and purpose into their lives, to identify future goals and pledge their commitment to achieving them. As Dr Ian Lambie makes it clear, this is not boot camp or is it a military-type experience. What the programme showed was that young offenders are redeemable, have great potential and deserve our attention and care.

It's time to move away from 'boot camps' and military intervention. It's time to stop appealing to our desire for retribution. The criminal justice system has clear limits to its effectiveness. Let's do the stuff that works.


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