Thursday, February 18, 2010

No more boot camp?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Colorado's prison boot camp could close as part of Gov. Bill Ritter's latest proposal to balance the state budget, Steven K. Paulson of the Associated Press reports.

Ritter announced his proposal to close the controversial program, slash a scholarship trust fund and go after tardy taxpayers to help close the latest $340 million gap in the state budget.

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While many budget cuts are painful, not everyone will be sorry to see the boot camp go. The concept behind such programs is that they help inmates develop self esteem and self control, but there's little evidence they work.

Ed Latessa, a criminologist at the University of Cincinnati, told the Indy in November 2007 that the programs may help some inmates feel better about themselves or work better in teams, but he wasn't sure those are big benefits:

"... These aren't things we necessarily want to do with criminals."
(Latessa spoke for a sidebar to a story about a woman who got hurt in the boot camp and struggled to get medical attention.)

It's not clear how much money would be saved if the boot camp is closed — assuming most inmates will be kept behind bars, the state will still pay around $30,000 a year to guard, house and feed them.

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