Poor ‘Boot camp’ Outcomes Provide an Opportunity to Experiment
The poor ‘Boot Camp’ outcomes should not be regarded as a failure, but as an opportunity to experiment with a different
approach”, said Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking and Punishment. He was commenting on a report from the Minister of
Social Development’s office that 50% of those who completed the course in the last year had already re-offended.
“If that report is correct, then the reoffending rate is likely to be in the order of 65 – 70% after two years of course
completion. That means that the course will have made very little difference for most, and will have increased the
likelihood of offending for some.
“The Ministry of Social Development staff should not be blamed for the poor outcome. The programme design was forced on
them by those who knew that the measure would have popular public support. Some commentators compared the Military
Activity Camps favourably to compulsory military training and Outward Bound. They forget that those interventions were
not designed for serious young offenders, but for normal young men and women. Similarly, the Limited Service Volunteers
programme was intended for assisting people to get long term employment – people with drug problems and serious
offending histories were not eligible.”
“If the government is serious about designing rehabilitation programmes that are evidence based, it now has the
opportunity to test approaches that have worked elsewhere. One option would be to carry on with the programme as it is
currently designed, and establish a parallel programme without military activity, but with increased focus on mentoring
and reintegrative support within the offender’s family or whanau for up to a year after release. The comparison will
tell us which approach works best.”
“At the end of the day, it is a waste of the taxpayer’s money to continue with a programme that isn’t working”.
Rethinking Crime and Punishment