Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Boot camps don't work

This morning, John Key suggest that the country deal with youth crime by sending young offenders away to boot camps to have some discipline bullied into them. However, there's a problem: it doesn't work:

“International evidence demonstrates that military style courses at best have no impact on reducing offending and at worst increase offending rates.

“In New Zealand, boot camps run under Corrective Training had a reoffending rate of 92 per cent. Consequently they were abolished when Labour came into office.

(Emphasis added, and Goff is wrong; the re-offending rate was actually 94.5% after 4 years. By way of comparison the re-offending rate of first-time offenders imprisoned after their first offence (i.e. exactly the sort of people expected to be sent to Correctional Training for a "short, sharp, shock") was around 80%. In other words, boot camp increased reoffending).

I think that speaks for itself about the sanity of Key's proposals. Like work for dole, boot camps are grossly counterproductive and empirically unsustainable. But then, the aim seems more to be to appear tough and pander to paedophobes (particularly elderly NZ First voters) than to actually do anything about the problem.