During the 1990’s, Juvenile Correctional
Boot Camps became an increasingly
popular sentencing option for Juvenile
delinquents. In 1996 through 2001, Texas
juvenile crime declined by 40% after the
STAR program (Specialized Training and
Rehabilitation) became popular
throughout the State The Star program
which was mandated by Texas Juvenile
Probation Commission has grown to over
100 different programs and it now has its
own annual summer training program for
its Drill Instructors that deals with issues
of Boot camp standards, legal liabilities,
and basic compliances.
Despite growing controversy of
correctional Juvenile boot camps and
its true effectiveness in dealing with
juvenile delinquency, properly
managed juvenile boot camps has
been as successful as regular
correctional programs .The controversy
has been primarily over whether the
camps are an appropriate way to
manage and treat juvenile delinquents
and what impact the camps have over
adjustment and behavior while they
attend and after release.
Despite their growth in popularity
in the 1990’s, Boot camps remain
controversial with critics
questioning whether their military-
style methods are appropriate to
managing and treating juvenile
delinquents and positively
affecting juvenile behavior. When
questioned, juveniles in boot
camps resoundingly responded
positively to their institutional
Boot camp juveniles stated they were better
prepared for release, were given more
therapeutic programming, and had more structure
and control. The one exception was that boot
camp youths were more likely to report that they
were in danger from staff in which could create a
negative environment for therapy and educational
Critics also states that the camps
confrontational environment is in direct
opposition to the type of positive
interpersonal relationships and
supportive atmosphere that is needed for
the juvenile’s positive development. From
their perspective, the boot camp
environment is antithetical to quality
therapeutic programming. The boot camp
atmosphere itself---strict control over
juveniles’ activities and confrontational
interactions between the drill instructors
and youths----may cause juveniles to fear
the Drill Instructors, which then create a
negative environment for therapy and
Proponents of the camps state that the
boot camp environment is conducive to
positive growth and change. Proponents
believe the structure and control the Drill
instructors have over the participants
create a safe atmosphere in which the
juveniles are less likely to fight or be
victimized than they would be in less
restrictive environments furthermore,
advocates argue that the incorporation
of the military model builds camaraderie
among juveniles and fosters respect for
Research shows that
although the boot camp
environment appears to be
radically different from that
of traditional residential
facilities and the fear of its
potentially negative impact,
recidivism reduction is more
apparent in boot camp
settings and juveniles tend to
want to return voluntarily
due to the structure and
discipline boot camps
provide, and juveniles on the
majority, is lacking the tough
discipline that boot camps
provide in the home settings
As we continue to weigh the value of the
boot camp setting, we must look for at total
quality management and performance-base
standards to change the focus from views on
best practices to desired outcomes. From
this perspective, the focus should shift from
what is thought to be the best way to
manage a facility to the actual outcomes
desired. Broadly defined, outcomes include
client and staff.
Perceptual Environmental Conditions Scales
Control: Do staff have control over the residents? Do
residents do what staff tells them? Do residents escape? Do
residents have drugs and weapons?
Resident danger: Do residents worry about being
punched by other residents? Are they afraid of other
residents? Are residents mean to each other? Do they fight?
Do residents get sexually attacked?
Staff Danger (Juvenile Perspective): Are residents afraid of
staff? Do staff grab, push, or shove residents? Are staff mean
Staff danger (Staff’s perspective): Are residents mean to
staff? Is staff in danger of being punched or hit by residents?
Do residents grab, push or shove staff?
•Environmental danger: Do staff protect residents? Is resident
property safe? Are gangs in the boot camp? Does staff catch
and punish troublemakers? Is there enough staff to keep
residents safe? Does staff prevent violence and forced sex
•Activity: Do residents have activities to keep them busy? Do
they spend time on school work? Are they busy at night? Do
they plan what they will do when they leave? Do they
exercise? D o they have activities when they are not in
•Care: Do staff encourage residents to try new activities?
Does staff help residents with school work after class? Does
staff tease residents? Does staff help residents with personal
problems? Is the health care good? Are residents friendly?
Does staff care about the residents?
• Quality of Life: Do residents exercise? Is it noisy? Do
residents have privacy in the shower and toilet? Do residents
get enough to eat?
Perceptual Environmental Conditions Scales
Structure: Do residents follow a set schedule? Do they study at
certain times? Do they know of consequences for breaking rules?
Are they messy? Are there rewards for achieving positive
standards? Is staff consistent in implementing discipline?
Justice: Are residents punished even when they do not do
anything wrong? Does staff use force? Can residents file a
grievance? Are residents aware of the grievance process? Can staff
and residents work out problems? Will something bad happen if a
resident files a grievance? Are punishments fair?
Preparation for release: Are residents encouraged to plan for
release? Have their grades improved? Their attitude improved? Do
they set goals for the future?
Individual Planning: Does residents have individual meetings
with staff? Do they get help with their problems? Does the
residents receive individual counseling?
The concept of Juvenile Bootcamp works. There needs to be more public
relations work to promote the positives of the Bootcamp concept. Bootcamps,
like any other adolescent facility, should be judged by the standard and the
success of its individual program and not by the publicity of “rogue” bootcamps.
Like any other juvenile facility, “bootcamps are under the careful watch of State
mandated entities and civil rights organizations, information on individual
bootcamps and its histories can be obtained through these organizations.
When Do I Start Believing In Myself?
I asked myself this question the other day about “when should I
start believing in myself” and as I recalled some situations in my
life, this is what I came up with:
In a rain storm with no shelter? When I’m tired and no rest?
When I’m hungry and no food? When I’m sick and no medicine?
Every time I recalled a time I thought I should believe in myself, it
was in times of distress and despair, At times when it seemed as
if I didn’t have the answer to this question……. Times when I felt
like giving up. I then read an affirmation that stated, “I cannot
expect anyone to believe in me until I began to believe in
I don’t ask myself this question anymore because I began to
have a positive outlook on life and realizing that believing in
myself comes out of normal positive everyday situations also.
I believe in myself every morning when I wake up, I really believe
in the person I see every morning in the mirror as I brush my
teeth and wash my face. I believe in the person who I am without
anyone telling me who I’m not. I believe that God makes no
mistakes, so therefore I’m not one. I believe in me because I
want you to believe in me also.
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