An Experimental Study of the Maryland Correctional Boot Camp for Adults: Research Design and Process Evaluation

Deanna M. Perez, University of Maryland at College Park
Doris Layton MacKenzie, University of Maryland at College Park
Ojmarrh Mitchell, University of Maryland at College Park
Tomer Einat, University of Maryland at College Park

A substantial body of evidence indicates that offenders sent to boot camps do not have significantly different rates of recidivism when compared to offenders serving traditional sentences (e.g., probation or prison). However, initial evidence suggests that boot camps incorporating therapeutic programming may be effective in reducing rates of recidivism. Therefore, research must address whether combining treatment with the military environment of boot camps yields lower recidivism rates than alternative correctional programs emphasizing treatment (e.g., prison treatment program). In addition, it may be too early to draw final conclusions about the impact of boot camps on later recidivism given that no study of adult programs has used an experimental design to evaluate boot camps versus some alternative. To address these issues, the current study will randomly assign adult inmates to either the Maryland boot camp, a well-established program with a strong treatment emphasis, or to an alternative correctional facility also emphasizing therapeutic programming but without a military component, to assess the impact on recidivism as well as antisocial attitudes and values. In this presentation, we will describe the experimental research design and present results from our process evaluation. This will include a description of the adult boot camp and the comparison facility as well as preliminary data on the characteristics (e.g., demographic, criminal, drug/alcohol, and employment history, etc.) of study subjects based on the self-reported questionnaire administered prior to random assignment.

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Updated 05/20/2006