Pennsylvania’s Quehanna Boot Camp is a state prison populated mostly by young drug dealers who used to rule their street corners, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The 13-year-old boot camp operates in a desolate area, on property that used to be a dumping ground for nuclear waste. About 3,300 prisoners, ranging in age from 16 to 35, have “graduated” from the boot camp. About 44 percent of the camp’s parolees between 1997 and 2003 got into trouble with the law again, compared with 53 percent of those who were released from traditional Pennsylvania prisons.
The camp has been ensnared in controversy because of a prisoner who has yet to spend a day there. A judge recommended that former world lightweight boxing champion Paul Spadafora serve his sentence at boot camp after pleading guilty to second-degree assault for shooting his girlfriend in the chest during a drunken rage. Editorial writers, columnists and ordinary citizens complained that sending Spadafora to boot camp for a violent crime was leniency at its worst. If the state accepts the judge’s recommendation, Spadafora would serve six months in boot camp instead of 21 to 60 months in prison. He is being evaluated now. Should Spadafora be admitted to boot camp, he will find the program anything but a cakewalk, Quehanna program director Tom Aaron said.