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Recidivism Rates At A Glance

Recidivism Rates

With any kind of treatment program involving the reformation of an offender, recidivism – incidence of repeat arrests and/or conviction – is always a prominent concern. Often recidivism rates of boot camp participants are compared to those of similar individuals who are committed to a youth detention center or adult correctional facility, as the specific goal of most camps is to cut down on juvenile recidivism and to lessen the dependence of justice systems on expensive forced confinement of offenders.

For some states, especially those that are among the national leaders in use of boot camps as a solution to detention, significant positive differences were measured. For instance, as of 15 years ago, the State of New York reported less than 15% of all boot camp participants being re-arrested, as opposed to 20% for cohorts in secure centers and jails. It should be noted, though, that these rates (at least at the time) were lower than average, meaning these figures may be real outliers.

The best evidence we have concerning the effect of boot camps/military schools on recidivism would seem to come from controlled research on the subject. Future analyses by the OJJDP and partner agencies that focused expressly on recidivism rates would not have good news. Two years later, the same three facilities and the children that first entered into their custody for treatment were assessed for their performance on measures of juvenile recidivism.

The Alabama and Colorado boot camps were found to make no substantial change in their participants' tendencies toward criminality and the Ohio camp's inmates actually got worse on this variable. Granted, this study is somewhat outmoded, but nonetheless, over the years similar studies have produced similar results.

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