Houston Could Scrap Boot Camp For Delinquents


Harris County, Tx., may scrap rigorous physical training and rigid military-style drills at its boot camp in favor of a program that uses therapy to attack the emotional and behavioral problems that led the young people into crime, the Houston Chronicle reports. The county opened a juvenile boot camp in 1994 to offer chronic young offenders one last chance to shape up before they would be shipped off to do hard time at a state facility. Officials hoped the strong emphasis on military structure, drill, and discipline would help the 14- to 16-year-old boys change from trouble-makers into responsible men.

County Juvenile Probation chief Harvey Hetzel said research has shown that young offenders more likely respond to counseling and education than to discipline alone. “Our [] weakness has always been the absence of a therapeutic component,” he said. The deaths of inmates at public and private boot camps in Florida, South Dakota, and Arizona and stories about abuses at similar facilities in Maryland and Georgia prompted many state and local governments to shutter their camps in the past 10 years. At one point there were boot camps in almost every state; now only a handful remain.

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