Prison Boot Camps:

Short-Term Prison Costs Reduced, but Long-Term Impact Uncertain

GGD-93-69: Published: Apr 29, 1993. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on state and federal boot camp programs and their costs and impact on prison overcrowding and recidivism.

GAO found that: (1) boot camps have continued to expand in popularity with 26 states operating a total of 57 boot camps servicing 8,880 inmates and 14 states operating boot camps for women inmates; (2) boot camps operate on a military style model, treat largely young nonviolent offenders with limited criminal histories, and offer a combination of work, discipline, drills, and training; (3) boot camps offer an alternative to traditional forms of incarceration and have the potential to reduce overcrowding, recidivism, and overall prison costs; (4) although states view boot camps as positive rehabilitation tools, their actual effectiveness is unknown because few states perform formal boot camp program evaluations; (5) boot camps do not significantly impact the inmate recidivism rate or reduce overall prison costs and overcrowding; (6) it is too soon to determine the federal boot camp program's impact on recidivism, since only 77 participants have completed all stages of the program; (7) the three stages in the federal boot camp program include boot camps, halfway houses, and home confinement; and (8) federal boot camp programs do not have early release incentives and statutory requirements restrict and set participation levels.

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