The Bush administration will eliminate a shock incarceration program that many considered a good way to help first-time offenders avoid long federal prison terms, the Buffalo News reports. Carla Wilson, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman, confirmed Friday that the 14-year-old Intensive Confinement Program will be discontinued. Wilson said she could not discuss the bureau’s reasons for closing down the program or give a timetable. “We’ve been told by (prison officials) that they felt the program was not cost-effective and was not successful at preventing people from becoming repeat offenders,” one Buffalo court official said.
The program was designed for younger, nonviolent, first-time convicts who faced no more than 30 months in prison. Those who qualified spent six months in an intensive “boot camp” that provided strict discipline, job training and counseling, followed by time in a community halfway house and home confinement. Plans to close down the program drew a negative reaction from a federal judge and from defense attorneys, who called it a rare glimmer of hope for young people entering the criminal justice system. “I’m shocked,” said District Judge William M. Skretny, who has recommended about 60 defendants for the program since becoming a judge in 1990. “I’d be very disappointed if this shutdown goes forward. I’ve had prisoners write to me after going through the program and tell me what a positive experience it has been in their lives.” The government runs two shock incarceration camps for men, in Lewisburg, Pa., and Lompoc, Calif. It also runs a facility for women in Bryan, Texas.