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Are Correctional Boot Camps Effective? Essay


Boot camps were introduced so that it can act as an alternative to jail for young offenders or criminals. Several studies have reported that the frequencies of recidivism for juvenile offenders who have been admitted in teen boot camps are extremely high, above 85% (Vito, 2005, p.65).

Boot camps may appear like the correct option for young people who have gotten involved in unlawful acts or are engaging in inappropriate conducts.

In Boot camps, they consider that terrifying and punishing the teens might discourage them from participating in illegal activities in the future, but this may be wrong. Most boot camps are considered to lack follow-up support, ineffective, and contain physical abuse.

Lack of Follow-up Support

When teens have shown the signs of rehabilitation, they are allowed to go back home from boot camps. After that, boot camp providers would not make a follow-up so that they can help the teens create sense of what they have experience in the boot camps.

This lack of follow-up raises the chances of the teens or young people reversing into the previous conducts. Mostly, boot camp providers avoid follow-up so that they can reduce expenses.

Since children are instructed to follow and respect seniors or boot camp providers who use noisy and violent tones, it has been reported that after going back home, many teenagers would have difficulties adjusting to normal superior’s leadership ways.

Their teachers and managers usually are not aggressive to students and workers and many former boot campers experience trouble in respecting them since they do not scream and threaten them (MacKenzie, Wilson, & Kider, 2001, p.127).

In several situations, former boot campers engage in more severe crimes after coming back from boot camps since they have learned techniques from their exposure with more skilled delinquents.

In the situations of private military boot camps, offenders cope fully at wholly controlled schools, but go back to their previous conducts once they got to their everyday lives.

Several young people come back from their boot camp lives with an impression of power or aggressive and commanding authority. These feelings are seen to cause conflicts during youth social interactions at organizations or schools.

Most generally, young people who face serious psychological problems after returning from boot camp lives were not intended for boot camp initially.

When guardians or parents admit their teenagers to these places in expectations of not having to manage parenting problems themselves, the adolescents can come back with their attitude of being neglected and may make them giving up in life.

Several teens may experience psychological troubles towards boot camp. Most children experience nightmares after returning home and after a while they may commit suicide.

Suicide is a big threat in some boot camps which do not have sufficient techniques of controlling suicidal risks in teens. Some of the deaths which are reported in boot camps are caused by perforated ulcer (Vito, 2005, p.65). Anxiety may result in the creation of ulcers that may ultimately harm the stomach.

Parents should consider carefully the program or therapeutic techniques for their troubled teens and they should bear in mind the long-term effects of the option.

If a teen experience major behavioral and emotional adjustments in a therapeutic course, the long-standing achievement rate will be much better as has been reported in most rehabilitation analyzes.


Some studies have shown that boot camps are inadequately considered as therapeutic approaches and mostly they do not reduce recidivism and can really have the negative impacts by raising immoral conducts (Welsh & Farrington, 2006, p.341).

In line with criminal justice professions, boot camps are not useful or unsuccessful in correcting juvenile offenders (Vito, 2005, p.66). Boot camps are considered to have no major rate of recovery when matched up to the rates of some different approaches.

Many people believe that children require constructive relationships which are not generated by the boot camp facilities. Also, teens usually do not consider that they require what are provided in boot camps.

Some parents wish for a faster way of correcting their concerned children. They do not understand that it takes some times, but not faster, to correct or rehabilitate their aggressive and troubled children.

Emphasizing on the long-term approaches where the correction is therapeutic and focus on behavioral change by the recognition of individual or parental accountability will enhance the attitude of their children.

Boot camps were initially intended for young persons who have been found guilty of criminal activities and parents should not send their children to these facilities.

Boot camp is not designed to change behavior by self-understanding. It is a setting which aims to frighten children openly, a course which has reported over and over again to possess simply short-range outcomes (Welsh & Farrington, 2006, p.341). Boot camps possess minimal positive impact on children, with more proves of long-term destructive impact.

A study by UN showed that while boot camps can be successful in the short-term, they are insufficient reports about the long-term effects and most of these children or young persons need understanding, assistance, and non-discriminative settings such as rehabilitation facilities and well managed boarding schools which will help in encouraging positive behaviors (Fisher, 2008, p.46).

Children who are admitted in boot camp usually make friends with other juvenile offenders, whom usually get attach in a strong and unhealthy manner, having the same destructive experiences.

Such relationships create children consider that it is fine to have committed crimes, insulted their guardians or engaged in whichever criminal acts, creating several boot camps relationships built in an unwholesome nature.

Physical Abuse

Many court cases have been filed for incidences of physical abuse carried out by boot camp providers or workers to the juvenile offenders. Some of the abuses include beating them, instructing them to perform excessive exercises, and throwing them into ditches.

Some injuries which are reported are losing their teeth and broken bones and cases of sexual abuse have been reported also (MacKenzie, Wilson, & Kider, 2001, p.127).

Most boot camps are allowed not to report any incidences of injuries which happen within the camps. Additionally, most of the employees which are working in boot camps had previously worked in violent jobs such as military staffs and officers. These employees are very aggressive and violent when handling juvenile offenders.

Most children or young persons hate group punishment and fight against unjust disciplinary authority. Several studies about boot camps showed that young persons aggressively hate their boot camps employees.

Rather than obeying boot camp regulations, they observe rules as unjust and something which is against them. Therefore, boot camps really convey more hostility to regulations and power.

This process may make them oppose all the rules which they shall follow, like even in workplaces or schools, since they have a mentality that they are against them.

Reports have shown that 35 children have died under boot camps facilities since 1985 (Vito, 2005, p.66). Most of these victims died from physical exhaustion, torture, dehydration, and suicide.

Most camps have a mindset that the boot camp life is thought to be a nightmare and boot camp providers hardly ever attend children when they report any complain concerning injury or thirst. These complaints are considered as just an excuse to circumvent the hard physical labor.

For instance in Florida, where a teen was admitted in a boot camp for a probation violation for intruding at a school after he was found guilty of stealing a car of his grandmother from a parking place in the church.

It was his first day at the boot camp when he collapsed while doing exercises and afterward there was a video showing him being struck and kicked by some boot camp employees (Fisher, 2008, p.46).

This is a good example of the physical abuse that juvenile offenders face while in boot camp and most of them are not reported. This torture may eventually lead to death and most parents would not like their children to pass through this torture.


In conclusion, effective approaches include exceptional academics where a child or a teenager may be successful, constructive discipline techniques in a system of proper handling not punishing and using family counseling to retain the optimistic changes which are experienced while in the program.

Boot camps which are designed for teenagers or children are not often the effective option for truly juvenile offenders.

They need to experience their behavioral and psychological matters along with learning and be taught legal conducts and constructive relationships which helps in enhancing their academic performances, individual relations, and individual achievements.

It is change which happens through self-understanding that has long-term and most enduring impact on any individual. Parents should offer their children the chance to learn more about themselves and later learn that they can be a constructive section of the society.


Fisher, J. (2008). Forensics under fire: are bad science and dueling experts corrupting criminal justice? New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

MacKenzie, D., Wilson, D., & Kider, S. (2001). What Works in Preventing Crime? Systematic Reviews of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 578: 126-143.

Vito, G. C. (2005). An impact analysis of the Alabama boot-camp program. Federal Probation , 59(2), 64–68.

Welsh, B., & Farrington, D. (2006). Preventing crime: what works for children, offenders, victims, and places. New York: Springer.

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