Drug Treatment In The Boot Camps

The earliest boot camps focused on discipline and hard work. More recently, they have begun to

Participants in the Sumter County Correctional Institution "boot camp"program arrive at their barracks in Bushnell, Florida, July 9, 1989. (© Bettmann/CORBIS)

emphasize treatment and education. It became clear that many of the entrants were drug-involved. Realizing that the punishment alone would not effectively reduce the drug use of these offenders, corrections officials introduced drug treatment or education into the daily schedule of boot-camp activities. By the late 1980s, all the camps had some type of substance-abuse treatment or education for boot-camp inmates (MacKenzie, 1994).

As happened with other aspects of the programs, the type of treatment and the amount of time devoted to substance-abuse treatment varied greatly among programs. The 90-day Florida program included only 15 days of treatment and education; in contrast, in the New York program all offenders received 180 days of treatment. Most programs reported that drug use was monitored during community supervision; however, the schedule and frequency of this monitoring varies greatly.

New York's Therapeutic Community Boot Camps. In the boot camps that include substance-abuse treatment as a component of the in-prison phase of the program, there are large differences in the way it is delivered. The bootcamp programs, developed by the New York Department of Correctional Services, use a therapeutic-community model for the program. All offenders are given a similar regimen of drug treatment while they are incarcerated (New York Department of Correctional Services, 1994). Each platoon in the boot camp forms a small community. They meet daily to solve problems and to discuss their progress in the shock program. They spend over 200 hours during the six-month program in substance-abuse treatment activity. The treatment is based on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic Anonymous (NA) models of abstinence and recovery. All boot camp inmates participate in the substance-abuse treatment regardless of their history of use and abuse.

Illinois's Boot Camp with Levels of Treatment. Like New York, the Illinois boot camp also targets substance abusers. However, the delivery of treatment services is very different. In Illinois, counselors at the boot camp evaluate offenders and match the education and treatment level to the identified severity level of the offender (Illinois Department of Corrections, 1992). Three different levels of treatment are provided. Inmates identified as level-one have no substance-abuse history, therefore they receive only two weeks of education. Level-two inmates are identified as probable substance abusers. They receive four weeks of treatment in addition to the drug education. The treatment consists of group therapy focusing predominately on denial and on family-support issues. Inmates identified as level-three are considered to have serious drug addictions; they receive ten weeks of education and treatment. In addition to the drug education and group therapy, they receive group sessions on substance-abuse relapse, Codependency, behavioral differences, family addiction, and roles within the family.

Texas's Voluntary Participation Model. A third model is represented by the Texas program (MacKenzie, 1994). In the boot camp, all participants receive five weeks of drug education. During this phase, inmates may also receive individual counseling and attend Twelve-Step fellowship meetings. More drug treatment is available for those who volunteer (the substance-abuse counselors in this program believe that treatment should be voluntary). These volunteers receive approximately four hours per week of treatment in the form of group therapy. The meetings are held during free time, so inmates are not released from work to attend. The group sessions focus on social values, self-worth, communication skills, self-awareness, family systems, self-esteem, and goal setting. Some inmates also receive individual counseling.

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