Amid Juvenile Crime Decline, WA Closes Boot Camp For Youth


At Washington state’s boot camp, Camp Outlook, teenagers convicted of crimes would get a dose old-school discipline: situps, push-ups, running. They also got behavioral therapy, job training and help finishing their education, says the Seattle Times. Even as military-style camps for juveniles elsewhere acquired a darker reputation and some were shut down after the deaths of boys and girls, Washington state's camp remained. A 2004 state report showed that, unlike camps in other states, Camp Outlook helped reduce some recidivism rates and save money. After a decline in juvenile arrests and pressures on the state budget, the camp closed this spring. Its last class of six people graduated in May, according to Pioneer Human Services, which operated the camp under contract.

Closing Camp Outlook will save the state $1.7 million over the 2015-17 budget cycle. Although only a drop in the $38.2 billion state budget, legislators sought savings where they could find themt to put more money toward education, mental-health programs and pay increases for teachers and state workers. Rep. Ross Hunter, chief budget writer for Democrats, cited the “pretty stunning” decline in youth crime as a reason to shut down the camp. In 2004, there were about 39,000 juvenile arrests in the state. By 2014, that number stood at about 13,000 — a roughly 67 percent decline over the decade. The steep drop mirrors both an international trend in developed countries and a national one, says Jeffrey Butts of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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