Bootcamp Prisons As Intermediate Sanctions

The boot-camp prisons were developed during the 1980s—in part, in response to the phenomenal growth in the number of convicted offenders. Correctional jurisdictions faced severe prison overcrowding, and probation caseloads grew so large that many offenders received only nominal supervision during their time in the community. Officials searched for ways to manage the offenders. There were two options—either they were sent to prison or they were supervised in the community on probation. Neither option was entirely satisfactory for the large number of young offenders. Alternative sanctions or intermediate punishments such as intensive community supervision, house arrest, or residential-community corrections centers were proposed as solutions to the problem. These options provided more control than a sentence to probation but less than a sentence to prison. Boot-camp prisons were one relatively inexpensive alternative sanction that became particularly popular.

The first boot-camp prisons were begun in 1983, in Oklahoma and Georgia. These two programs attracted a great deal of attention and other jurisdictions soon began developing similar programs. By 1999, more than fifty boot camps housed about 4,500 juveniles. Additional facilities house adult felons and other programs have been started in local jails and in juvenile-detention centers. Although the majority of the boot camps have male participants, some programs admit women into the boot camps with the male offenders. Other states have developed completely separate boot-camp prisons for women. The Federal Bureau of Prisons developed one boot camp for males and a separate program for females. However, by 2000 several states had either ended their programs or drastically scaled back the size of the programs.

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