Boot Camps for Juveniles

Boot Camps for Juveniles

In an Ineffective Solution

Boot camps for juveniles popularized in the 1980s as an alternative to juvenile detention centers. This practice, despite still being popular in some states has proven to be ineffective at reducing recidivism in juvenile offenders. When compared with community programs the rates of recidivism were not much different, and in many cases, had an eight percent higher rate (Department of Juvenile Justice, 2013).

While camps appear to be a good idea since they alleviate detention center issues, there are a variety of reasons they do not work. Perhaps the most important reason cited by the Department of Justice is the fact that their environment creates probation behavior: compliant behavior that only lasts until release from the camp. Another important reason cited for camp failure pertains to the camp’s aggressive style of rehab, “aggressive interactions between staff and youth observed in boot camps fail to model the pro‐social behavior and development of empathy that at‐risk youth need to learn” (Department of Juvenile Justice, 2013). The exposure to aggressive behavior is opposite of needed nurturing behavior that will develop empathy and better life skills, not prone to violence.

Juvenile boot camp efficacy is so questionable most state governments have ceased funding them. With high recidivism rates, the need to modify rehabilitation to a more empathetic and nurturing environment as most of the youth leaving these camps must learn to cope with harsh, high crime areas when they leave (National Institute of Justice, 2014). Future attempts to create rehabilitation camps will need to take into account environmental and social influences impacting juveniles.


Department of Juvenile Justice. (2013, August). JUVENILE BOOT CAMP PROGRAMS. Retrieved from Florida Department of Juvenile Justice:

National Institute of Justice. (2014, March 14). Recidivism. Retrieved from National Institute of Justice:

Photo by Ethan Johnson on Unsplash


Triola Vincent. Mon, Feb 01, 2021. Boot Camps for Juveniles Retrieved from

Need similar articles?

Criminal Justice
Back to: Ten Years of Academic Writing