The Rise and Fall of Boot Camps: A Case Study in Common-Sense Corrections

Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati
Kristie R. Blevins, University of Cincinnati
Jennifer S. Trager, University of Cincinnati
Paul Gendreau, University of New Brunswick at St. John

"Common sense" is often used as a powerful rationale for implementing correctional programs that have no basis in criminology and virtually no hope of reducing recidivism. Within this context, we undertake a case study in "common-sense" corrections by showing how the rise of boot camps, although having multiple causes, was ultimately legitimized by appeals to common sense. We also reveal, however, how sustained, rigorous research attenuated this legitimacy and led to the diminshed appeal of boot camps. The fall of this sanction suggests that evidence-based corrections may, at times, compete successfully with common-sense corrections. The policy and practice implications of this observation are explored.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006