Fourteen Minnesota prisoners march in military formation, chanting: “Now it’s time to be a man; fix our problems while we can. Restorative justice, giving back; trying to get our lives on track.” The Christian Science Monitor says this is part of a boot-camp program that gives early release to nonviolent drug offenders, most of whom are in on methamphetamine-related crimes.
The Minnesota program is a rare model. At a time when the federal and several state governments are moving away from boot-camps, Minnesota is showing how nonviolent drug offenders can return to society and remain sober. When it comes to meth, some states are also seeing economic and social benefits by replacing prison time with treatment, particularly with those who are in the drug business because of a personal addiction rather than for profit. In January, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons decided to close its 14-year-old boot-camp program, calling it a failed concept. At its peak, that program involved more than 7,000 inmates in 27 states. In Minnesota, the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) will double in size next year to 180 beds. It has earned support from even conservative state legislators, in part because of its very low 2 percent recidivism rate for those who complete the program. The CIP also has had good success with meth addicts, who can be particularly hard to treat. The cost of incarcerating a typical prisoner averages about $78 per day; CIP costs about $34 per prisoner per day.