Colorado Ends Boot Camp; Recidivism Rates Remain High


The last graduating class from a military-style prison boot camp in Colorado got certificates yesterday, ending a program that failed to meet expectations and became too costly to run, the Denver Post reports. If the new class of 23 follows the record of previous graduates, 12 of them will commit new crimes within three years of their release.

Although given big rewards – including shorter prison sentences – 51 percent of the 155 inmates released from prison through boot camp in fiscal year 2007 have already returned to prison. The 51 percent recidivism rate of these nonviolent offenders was only 2 percentage points better than the record of inmates convicted of crimes such as robbery and murder. “The lowest-risk offenders go into the camp,” said Katherine Sanguinetti of the Colorado Department of Corrections. “You would have expected a huge difference in recidivism.” The boot camp graduates were rewarded as though their prospects for success were dramatically raised. The graduates were five times as likely to win an early release as their peers. They qualified for release 28 months before their parole eligibility dates and were immediately eligible for sentence reductions. The deciding factor leading to the closure of the program was it became too costly as fewer inmates qualified or volunteered for the program. Just in the past year, the cost per inmate rose from $78 a day to $110. Colorado’s prison system has seen a steady drop in the number of minimum-security inmates, while the number of more dangerous offenders is climbing steadily.

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