Canadian Boot Camps

A look at the implementation of Canadian youth correctional boot camps.

This article will explore juvenile crime, youth correctional military styled boot camps, their effects on the juvenile offenders, as well as prisons and their effects on the youth. In addition, because Canada has no Boot Camps I will explore the United States and their Boot Camps and finally rehabilitation and reintegration.

Crimes involving youths are more vicious today than they were in the past. There is a rapidly rising number of juvenile arrests in the past several years. Youth Correctional Boot Camps, can they be the solution to the rising concern among youths today? Or, is placing impressionable juvenile offenders in an adult prison the right response? Can military styled Boot Camps be used as a prevention tool as well as delinquency corrector? Rehabilitation through a combination of a physically exhausting military regiment and educational awareness will enable youths to be reintegrated into society and contribute positively to the world.

What is juvenile crime? It is defined by Canadian Criminal Law as, any wrongs committed against individuals and society as a whole which are prohibited by law committed by juveniles." In addition, to be considered as a juvenile you have to be between the ages of 12 and 17.

There are three very broad categories of crimes that are committed by youths, such as violent, property and drug-related. Violent crimes refer to murder, robbery, homicide, assault that involves the intent or threatened application of force without consent, rape and kidnapping. Property offences are crimes with the intent of gaining property whether personal or public through the use of force of threatened force. According to the Department of Justice of Canada, "the majority of charges against youth are for non-violent property offences, and about one-half are for theft under $5000." And lastly, narcotics-related offences include possession of an illegal substance and the intent of possession for the sale and distribution of an illegal substance.


as reported by the Koch Crime Institute White Paper Report: Part 1 of 2

Juvenile Boot Camp programs are supposed to replicate the boot camp training that military recruits receive. This military environment facilitates individual training and prepares soldiers for mental and physical stresses which will confront them in a combat situation. This same environment works well in helping to correct first-time, non-violent offenders, and enables them to be reintegrated into society and contribute positively. The focus of these camps is training. Correctional Boot Camps train youth offenders to be accountable and take responsibility for their actions and teach them respect for others as well as themselves.

Boot Camps are meant for short term use and therefore run a short cycle of approximately 90 and 180 days. The youth offenders' days begin at 5:30AM and goes until 9:30PM. Their day is kept busy with physical training, work, drill exercises, educational programs and provide support to the young offenders and help them through problems that may be facing them now and teach them to deal with their problems in a non-destructive way.


Part 2

Deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, punishment and cost control.

First, programs like these correctional camps are to act as a deterrence to first-time offenders from offending again. Incapacitation means confinement, restricting the offenders' freedom and activities. Rehabilitation through physical military type training and educational awareness about a variety of issues facing teens today. Punishment, giving the youth meaningful consequences for his/her actions. And finally, cost control, making sure that it is worth the cost and that it is more cost-effective than sending the offender to a long-term institution like prison.

Admission requirements according to United States Code 42 Sec. 5667(f)-2, " a person shall be eligible for assignment to a boot camp if he or she is considered to be a juvenile under the laws of the State of jurisdiction, and has been adjudicated to be delinquent in the States of jurisdiction, or upon approval of the court, voluntarily agrees to the boot camp assignment without a delinquency adjudication."

In the White Paper report done by the Koch Institute on Juvenile Boot Camps, they reported that an annual cost of approximately $47,400 to incarcerate a juvenile offender for one year and increases even more when the correctional facilities incarcerate the youth for longer amounts of time. A year of boot camp is an annual cost of $33,480. The cost difference between these two is about $14,000. This cost difference is just one of the reasons Canada should look closely at the execution of boot camps over other correctional facilities, such as prisons.


There have been no reported adverse effects of boot camps on youth offenders. They have a "scared straight, in your face" effect about them which teaches the offender to respect and listen to the adults that are implementing the program. This in turn will teach them to respect other adults and their authority. Because the offenders work in "platoon" type groups, they are taught to respect one another, work together and learn about each other's limitations and strengths and work together to help each other with them.

Prisons. Prisons as defined by the World Book Encyclopedia are designed for confining and punishment for people who have been convicted of committing a crime. They, too, have benefits and drawbacks. For instance, they help protect society from its most dangerous criminals. They punish criminals by severely restricting their freedom. And they try to act as a symbol of deterrence and prevention for future crimes. But, there are more drawbacks to placing youths among dangerous adult criminals.

First, there is the issue of overcrowding which leads to unsafe conditions. Second, they are put under the influence of adult criminal;, young criminals can come out smarter than they went in, which in turns makes them more dangerous and violent than they were to start with. And lastly, the issue of cost. Even though the figure I stated earlier, of a $14,000 difference in putting a juvenile in a short term program like boot camp versus other correctional facilities is in regards to the United States, it should give us in Canada a wakeup call. If the only problem holding us back from implementing a program like this is a cost, well, I think I have proven that it is cost-effective.

In conclusion, would Boot Camps in Canada be the right response to the underlying problem of violence among our youth today? Or would putting them in our already overcrowded, unsafe prisons be the answer? We have a responsibility to come up with an effective response to the causes of criminal behavior in our youth. We must provide appropriate measures to deal with youth violence, and must strengthen out efforts to rehabilitate young people who commit crime.

Boot Camps ARE a meaningful solution. They help offenders through physical and mental training, they educate them on issues that have an effect on their lives and they give the offender a role model to look up to. Not to mention, they have been proven as a cost-effective alternative to overcrowded prisons.

Boot Camps have no foreseen drawbacks except one: they may not work for every kid that passes through. But if a program like this can help one child make the right choice about where their life is heading, then we have helped the world be a better and safer place for all. It is time for us to reclaim the lives that have already chosen or about to choose the wrong path. We must invest our time and money into our youth; they after all are our future.

© High Speed Ventures 2011