Performance During Community Supervision

Studies have compared the performance during community supervision of graduates from the bootcamp prisons to others who served a longer time in prison or who were sentenced to probation. In most cases, there were no significant differences between these offenders in recidivism rates or in positive social activities (MacKenzie & Souryal, 1994). However, boot-camp graduates in Illinois and Louisiana had fewer revocations for new crimes. Research examining New York offenders found mixed results. Graduates had fewer new crime revocations in one study (New York Correctional Services, 1994) and fewer technical violations in another study (MacKenzie & Souryal, 1994).

All the boot-camp prisons had a military atmosphere with physical training, drill and ceremony, and hard labor. If this atmosphere alone changed offenders, we would expect all the graduates to have lower recidivism rates and better positive adjustment. The inconsistency of the results suggests that the boot-camp atmosphere alone will not successfully reduce recidivism or positively change offenders. Some other aspects of the Illinois, New York, and Louisiana programs, either with or without the boot-camp atmosphere, led to the positive impact on these offenders. After an examination of these programs, the researchers concluded that all three programs devoted a great deal of time to therapeutic activities during the boot-camp prison, a large number of entrants were dismissed, the length of time in the boot camp was longer than other boot camps, participation was voluntary, and the in-prison phase was followed by six months of intensive supervision in the community. Research as of the mid-1990s cannot separate the effect of these components from the impact of the military atmo sphere. Most likely, a critical component of the boot camps for drug-involved offenders is the therapy provided during the program and the transition and aftercare treatment provided during community supervision.

Performance of Drug-Involved Offenders. Shaw and MacKenzie (1992) studied the performance of drug-involved offenders during community supervision in Louisiana. In comparison to offenders who were not drug-involved, those who were drug-involved did poorer during community supervision. This was true of those on probation, parolees from traditional prisons, and parolees from the boot camp. The boot-camp parolees did not do better than others. During the first year of supervision, the drug-involved offenders were more likely to have a positive drug screen.

Problem drinkers who graduated from the Louisiana program were found to perform better, as measured by positive activities during community supervision (Shaw & MacKenzie, 1989). Their performance was, however, more varied—indicating that they may need more support and aftercare than other offenders.

In contrast to the Louisiana findings, research in New York indicated that those who were returned to prison were more apt to be alcoholics (New York Department of Correctional Services, 1994). In both Louisiana and New York, offenders who were convicted of drug offenses did better than self-confessed alcoholics during community supervision.

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