The Quehanna (PA) Motivational Boot Camp program is designed to reduce recidivism and promote good citizenship characteristics among eligible inmates, who would have ordinarily been sentenced to traditional confinement. The boot camp is designed to provide discipline and structure to the lives of eligible inmates and to promote those qualities in their post-release behavior. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment is provided in the form of daily counseling for those with identified AOD needs.
Admission to the boot camp is a multistage process. Using the following criteria, the person must 1) be recommended to participate in the boot camp by the sentencing judge; 2) be willing to enter the boot camp; 3) be under age 40; 4) not be convicted of murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, drug delivery resulting in death, kidnapping, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, arson, burglary, robbery, robbery of a motor vehicle, or drug trafficking; 5) not have a deadly weapon enhancement; 6) have no active detainers for other crimes; and 7) have been given a minimum sentence of 2 years or less and a maximum sentence of 5 years or less (or a minimum sentence of 3 years or less and within 2 years of minimum). Those recommended are screened further by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections before final admission decisions are made.
The program takes place in a facility in rural Pennsylvania. The boot camp program is 6 months long and results in presumptive parole. The boot camp has regimented 16-hour days, consisting of work and program activities (i.e., military drills and physical exercise) with little free time. Days typically begin at 5:30 a.m. with reveille, followed by an hour of physical training, and the rest of the day is tightly scheduled with educational and rehabilitative classes and work.
The inmates participate in individual and group counseling sessions, with group sessions lasting about 1.5 hours per day, and an additional 6 hours per day is spent in psychoeducational classes based in cognitive–behavioral principles. The boot camp includes a mandatory education program for inmates who do not have a high school diploma, and those inmates who have graduated high school serve as tutors (Dermody, White, and Bergstrom 2009).
AOD treatment is integral to the program, with those assessed with AOD issues given daily counseling. The boot camp has additional components: 1) Therapeutic Community strategies (e.g., encounter groups, problem-solving groups, and community shutdowns); 2) female-specific programming (i.e., Moving On); 3) weekly veteran-specific groups; and 4) trauma-based groups (i.e., Seeking Safety). The inmates also work on community projects involving other agencies (e.g., Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission).
In January 2014, the boot camp began a reentry initiative with a full-time corrections counselor. Specific additional programming includes biannual job fairs, relationship classes, healthy living classes, money smart classes, resumes for each inmate leaving, housing classes, entrepreneurial classes, parole classes, and outside agency classes (e.g., Penn State Cooperative Extension and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation).
Correctional boot camps are typically modeled after military boot camps, with the goal of instilling discipline and structure through military drills and physical exercise. Military training throughout the day is designed to require inmates to demonstrate respect, follow instructions, use military bearing, maintain neat and clean personal quarters, display a positive attitude, and use time constructively. Therapeutic components of the Quehanna Motivational Boot Camp are based in cognitive–behavioral theory (Dermody, White, and Bergstrom 2009).
Bucklen, Bell, and Hafer (2016) found a statistically significant difference between the 3-year reincarceration rates for the Quehanna Motivational Boot Camp treatment group and comparison group; however, the difference between the groups was small (49.6 percent versus 55.1 percent, respectively).
There was a statistically significant difference between the 3-year rearrest rates for the boot camp treatment group and comparison group; however, the difference between the groups was small (43.3 percent and 49.4 percent, respectively).
Bucklen, Bell, and Hafer (2016) used a quasi-experimental design with propensity score matching to compare recidivism of graduates of Pennsylvania’s Quehanna Motivational Boot Camp with a comparison group. Overall recidivism and rearrest rates were measured for up to 3 years.
Eligibility was determined through a multistage process. Using the following criteria, the person must 1) be recommended to participate in the program by the sentencing judge; 2) be willing to enter the boot camp; 3) be under age 40; 4) not be convicted of murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, drug delivery resulting in death, kidnapping, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, arson, burglary, robbery, robbery of a motor vehicle, or drug trafficking; 5) not have a deadly weapon enhancement; 6) have no active detainers for other crimes; 6) have been given a minimum sentence of 2 years or less and a maximum sentence of 5 years or less, or a minimum sentence of 3 years or less and within 2 years of minimum. Those recommended were screened further by the PA Department of Corrections before final admission decisions were made.
The treatment group participated in the 6-month boot camp that included both substance use treatment and a reentry component. The comparison group included similar inmates who met the same statutory requirements, but did not go through the boot camp program. Propensity score matching was conducted matching on age, race, gender, committing county, offense type (i.e., violent, property, drug), criminal risk score, maximum sentence years, prior incarcerations, and prior arrests. The two groups were found to be statistically equivalent on all matching variables.
The number of boot camp participants for whom 3-year recidivism rates were available was 1,283; there were 6,498 inmates in the comparison group. The treatment group participants were mostly male (88 percent), and 39 percent were under age 25, 39 percent aged 25 to 30, and 22 percent aged 31 to 40. Of the participants, 50 percent were black, 38 percent were white, and 12 percent were Hispanic. Specific demographic information was not provided for the comparison group.
The two outcomes of interest were rearrest and reincarceration, which includes returns to state prison for a new crime or parole violation and returns to county jails and parole violator centers for technical parole violations. The method used to analyze the difference between the treatment and comparison groups at 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years was not specified; thus, this is a limitation of the study.
Bucklen, Bell, and Hafer (2016) calculated program cost savings based on current statistics that boot camp participants spent 16 months less in prison on average than a comparison group of non-boot camp inmates. From the beginning of boot camp in December 1992, to the time of the report, a total of 9,168 participants had been released from custody, and current Pennsylvania Department of Corrections budget numbers indicate the per diem cost of incarceration to be $31.90 per inmate. After taking into account the time that boot camp participants stayed in Community Corrections Centers (CCCs) until August 2014, and the time that non-boot camp parolees spent in CCCs versus being paroled directly home, the study authors concluded that there was a net cost savings of $104.8 million, or $11,431 per boot camp participant.
This is an evaluation of the Quehanna (PA) Motivational Boot Camp as it was conducted from January 2009 through December 2014. During this timeframe, aftercare ranged from services provided as part of the boot camp to 30- and 90-day residential aftercare programs. All of these components were included in the evaluation by Bucklen, Bell, and Hafer (2016). The Residential Aftercare Component of Quehanna Motivational Boot Camp (which is no longer active) was evaluated separately and rated No Effects on CrimeSolutions.gov.
Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:Study 1
Bucklen, Kristofer Bret, Nicolette Bell, and Joseph Hafer. 2016. Quehanna Motivational Boot Camp: 2016 Performance Report
. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
These sources were used in the development of the program profile:
Dermody, Frank , Mary Jo White, and Mark H. Bergstrom (Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing). 2009. Pennsylvania’s Motivational Boot Camp Program: The Impact of Program Completion on Offender Recidivism.
2009 Report to the Legislature.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. No date. Quehanna Boot Camp
Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:Adult Boot Camps
Correctional boot camps (also called shock or intensive incarceration programs) are short-term residential programs that resemble military basic training and target convicted adult offenders. The practice is rated No Effects and found not to reduce recidivism. The likelihood of boot camp participants recidivating was roughly equal to the likelihood of comparison participants recidivating.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Adult Reentry Programs
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This practice involves correctional programs that focus on the transition of individuals from prison into the community. Reentry programs involve treatment or services that have been initiated while the individual is in custody and a follow-up component after the individual is released. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism.Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
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