Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee 1 – Juvenile Boot Camps Don’t Work

I was browsing the Indiana General Assembly’s Criminal Law and Sentencing Committee page, as one will do on a Tuesday morning. It has not posted a final report, but there were some interesting things in the October 31, 2013, minutes (pdf).

During an exchange between the committee, a question was asked about whether boot camp for juveniles was an effective form of discipline. Turns out that they are not only not effective, they are actually counterproductive.

During Committee discussion, Judge Heimann stated that an Ohio study demonstrated that boot camps caused the recidivism rate to increase. While many proponents believed that it would reduce recidivism by instilling military-style discipline, the end result was that bootcamp-trained juveniles made good tools for criminal gangs.

I had not given the matter much thought; but reading this, I am not surprised that boot camps would have a certain appeal or that they would ultimately be counterproductive. They are appealing because, for some reason, we love punishment. We fear coddling a wrongdoer. Kids these days have it too easy!

But, ultimately, throwing kids into a pool of other kids from chaotic backgrounds, yelling at them, and expecting something good to happen probably isn’t very realistic.

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What I have in mind for item #2 is committee discussion under-reporting of juvenile crimes; particularly sex crimes against girls.

Comments

  1. Stuart says

    For an area which occupies so much space in the news media, provides countless hours of worry to members of the public, is the cause for billions of dollars spent for home security and serves as the rationale to move or not move into an area, among other things, there is an amazing lack of systematic and focused intervention in criminal justice among persons of all ages. The public doesn’t seem to insist on developing programs that work or want data to understand what happens to people who have been incarcerated. Even prevention programs, such as D.A.R.E. go unquestioned when the data clearly show that it simply has no effect. It doesn’t work? Then spend twice as much money on it. After spending tens of thousands incarcerating someone, the person is worse off than before? Send them back. Prisoners treated like dirt, and worse, in situations that could easily be called cruel and unusual? They are in jail, after all. And we do this to 1 out of every 100 persons in this country.

    I recently heard a person from Norway describing how they deal with prisoners. In her comments she said that she was amazed at the U.S., which virtually brags about being a “Christian” country, yet whose criminal justice system is so appalling, while Norway,, not identified as particularly religious, is so focused on treating people humanely.

    • mary says

      “”I recently heard a person from Norway describing how they deal with prisoners. In her comments she said that she was amazed at the U.S., which virtually brags about being a “Christian” country, yet whose criminal justice system is so appalling, while Norway,, not identified as particularly religious, is so focused on treating people humanely.””

      Depends on the brand of Christianity, do you suppose?

  2. mary says

    “”While many proponents believed that it would reduce recidivism by instilling military-style discipline, the end result was that bootcamp-trained juveniles made good tools for criminal gangs.””

    “”But, ultimately, throwing kids into a pool of other kids from chaotic backgrounds, yelling at them, and expecting something good to happen probably isn’t very realistic.””

    Talking this over with people in a leadership training class — The people seem surprised to realize that leadership isn’t “good” in and of itself, and it can be “bad.” Gangs depend on leadership. Kids who would join gangs get a sense of belonging to a group, a perverted purpose greater than themselves and a sense of control over their lives. Only when the “good” guys can counter that with something stronger than platitudes will the tide be turned. So, how do you-we-whoever help them make their lives better?

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