Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Effectiveness of Boot Camps for Women

While reading Correctional Boot Camps: Lessons From a Decade of Research I found the section titled "Females in Boot Camps" particularly interesting. It talks about how one of the issues that makes traditional boot camps less effective for women is that they don't normally allow the participants to have visitors or contact with the outside world and since most women participants are single parents they need to be able to see their children on a regular basis. Along this same line they should also be offered parenting classes while they are in the boot camp program.

Second, female participants are 4 to 5 times more likely to be victims of physical or sexual abuse than the males, according to the research, because of this the language that the staff uses to breakdown the participants can re-traumatize these participants especially those that have been victims of domestic violence. These programs instead should provide intensive therapy to these women to be able to handle the emotions that stem from the abuse. 

Third, the research shows that the female participants are more likely to have been unemployed prior to getting in trouble and normally boot camp programs don't address job training and education that the women need in order to support their families legally once they are released.

Finally, according to the research, boot camps don't work in their current form for women because a woman's addiction to drugs and alcohol is different than a man's addiction and many boot camps are using the same addiction program for the women's program as they do for the men making it less effective. I found this very interesting and I am planning on researching this more to figure out what they mean by this. If anyone has any information on this I would be interested in learning what you know. 

One things that the research said would help on top of correcting the four issues I stated above would be to have strong female instructors to act as role models for the female participants. I also thought that this would help with those that have been abused by men feel comfortable and safe.

I think that the reasons these issues get overlooked when correction departments are planning their boot camps for women are because they are calling them boot camps. I think that it would be better if those planning this called it an intensive rehabilitation program then they would get into the right mindset to plan the program for the women. They could still add in some physical training, but that shouldn't be the focus of the program.

Research also shows that both men and women need to have reentry help after the boot camp is over in order for them to have a better chance at not reoffending. 

The information in this paper will make you look at boot camp programs a little differently. Especially if you are under the impression that they are a good way to turn around the lives of the participants, as long as they are willing to put in the work necessary to complete these intensive programs. Before I read this article, I didn't like that boot camps focused so much on physical exercise and breaking the participants down instead of on addiction issues, therapy, and job training so when I read this I was glad to see that the research backed my views. I am willing to change my views if the research doesn't back them because I just want to see the best policies being enacted throughout the criminal justice system. Since that is the only way that the system is going to be truly effective. 

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