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Program Profile: High Intensity Training (HIT) Regime at Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institution (England)

Evidence Rating: No Effects - One study No Effects - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 31, 2017

Program Summary

This program is a correctional boot camp that combines elements of military training with elements of rehabilitation to prepare individuals ages 18 to 21 (considered “young offenders”) for reentry into their communities. The program is rated No Effects. At the 10-year follow up, there was no statistically significant impact on reconviction rates. Program participants had a statistically significant fewer number of reconvictions, compared with the control group; however, the difference was small.

Program Description

Program Goals
The High Intensity Training (HIT) regime is a 25-week correctional boot camp implemented in the existing Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institution in North of England that aims to prepare young offenders (YOs), ages 18 to 21, for reentry into their communities. The four goals of the HIT program are to 1) reduce the risk of reoffending, 2) provide YOs with vigorous and demanding activities during a full and active day, 3) provide nationally recognized educational qualifications and vocational training, and 4) facilitate the reintegration of YOs back into the community following release.
Target Population/Eligibility
The program targets males between the ages of 18 and 21 with at least 6 months remaining to serve on their sentences. Additionally, eligible YOs must be suitable for open conditions (i.e., have no escapes or sex offenses on their records), have an IQ of 80 or more, and have no history of mental illness. Participation is voluntary, and selection teams interview eligible individuals and enroll those they believe would respond well to the program.
Program Activities
The program combines elements of military training — such as physical training and drilling — with elements of rehabilitation, including educational programming, life-skills and vocational training, cognitive-behavioral treatment, and job placement. The program is divided into five phases with a maximum of 14 participants enrolled every 5 weeks. The five phases are Initial Assessment, Basic Skills, Vocational Training, Pre-Release, and Community Work Placement.
A typical day in the HIT program starts at 6 a.m., with cleaning the unit and drilling, and ends at 10 p.m. YOs get approximately 1.25 hours a day for earned privileges; the rest of the time is spent on daily activities, including skills training, physical education, offending behavior programs, and evening classes (which include computing and drug awareness). The offending behavior program, Enhanced Thinking Skills, is a shortened version of the Reasoning and Rehabilitation program.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Reconviction Rate
At 10-year follow up, Jolliffe, Farrington, and Howard (2013) found there was no statistically significant difference between participants in the High Intensity Training (HIT) group and the control group on rate of reconvictions.
Number of Reconvictions
At the 10-year follow up, HIT participants had statistically significant fewer reconvictions (15.6), compared with the control group (18.7); however, the difference was small.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Jolliffe, Farrington, and Howard (2013) used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of the High Intensity Training (HIT) regime at the Thorn Cross Young Offenders Institution (YOI) in the North of England on reconviction rates at the 10-year follow up.  

Treatment group individuals were recruited from neighboring YOIs based on a set of criteria specified in the program description. Participants for the HIT regime came from several YOIs such as Hindley, Lancaster Farms, Stoke Heath, and Brinsford. All participants were males between the ages of 18 and 21. Only YOs with sex offenses, serious drug offenses, or a history of escape were not allowed to participate. A selection team visited the facilities to interview individuals who were pre-screened as eligible by staff in those institutions. Eligible YOs could choose not to participate in the program. Those in the comparison group typically met the eligibility criteria, but were either not selected or refused to participate. In most cases, those in the comparison group had less than 6 months to serve or exhibited behavioral concerns. YOs in the comparison group were matched with those in the treatment group based on their risk for reconviction.  

The study did not provide detailed demographic information about the YOs who participated in the program. The reconviction analysis for the HIT regime was based on a final treatment group of 176 males ages 18 to 21 and a final control group of 127 males ages 18 to 21. The only racial characteristic reported was white. The treatment group was 90 percent white, and the comparison group was 88.4 percent white. Of the 184 originally placed in the treatment group, only 106 completed the program. Follow-up records could not be found for eight treatment group participants and three comparison group participants.
Using actual reconviction data from Police National Computer and reconviction scores from the Offenders Index, which is based on principles of the revised Offenders Group Reconviction Scale, the study authors used a likelihood ratio chi-squared (LRCS) test to assess how accurately the score predicted actual reconvictions within the 10-year follow up. In this analysis, the authors controlled for predicted reconviction rates and differences between groups. Using LRCS, researchers reported on the statistical significance of their prediction scores. They compared the prediction scores for both groups with the percentage of each group that was reconvicted, using information derived from the Police National Computer.  
There are a number of methodological limitations associated with sampling. Because those in the comparison group were typically eligible youths who had opted not to participate, had behavioral concerns, or whom the selection team identified as lacking motivation for the program, there were likely preexisting differences between groups. Furthermore, the report noted a suspicion that staff at YOIs purposefully hid eligible participants for fear of losing a well-behaved YO. This limited the pool from which researchers could recruit participants. The researchers also noted that their sampling issues were due in part to the set of criteria they established. For example, their length-of-stay criterion was at odds with suitability for open conditions; those with sentences longer than 6 months were more likely to be ineligible for open conditions.
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Jolliffe, Farrington, and Howard (2013) compared the costs of different categories of offenses over the 10-year follow-up period for the High Intensity Training (HIT) participants and the control group. Overall, they calculated that because the HIT group had fewer convictions than the control group, the HIT group cost about £1,342,714 (approximately $1,708,066) less over the 10-year follow-up period. The cost savings per HIT participant for the entire 10-year follow up was about £9,588 (approximately $12,195).
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Implementation Information

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All staff receive a 9-week training course to supplement their existing skills; for example, all are trained as Sports and Games officers in understanding adolescents, in managing aggression, and in the delivery of the Enhanced Thinking Skills course (Jolliffe, Farrington, and Howard 2013).  

Jolliffe, Farrington, and Howard (2013) also reported that there was a “teething period” for the first few weeks of the program’s implementation during which there was significant resistance from participants on the intensity of program requirements. They also noted that only 105 of the 184 recruited YOs successfully completed the program, based on the defined set of five phases for completion.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Jolliffe, Darrick, David Farrington, and Philip Howard. 2013. “How Long Did It Last? A 10-Year Reconviction Follow-up Study of High Intensity Training for Young Offenders.” Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9: 515?31.

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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Farrington, David, Gareth Hancock, Mark Livingston, Kate Painter, and Graham Towl. 2000. Evaluation of Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders (No. 121). London, England: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

Farrington, David, J. Ditchfield, Gareth Hancock, Philip Howard, Darrick Jolliffe, Mark Livingston, and Kate Painter. 2002. Evaluation of Two Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders. London, England: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

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Related Practices

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Following are 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:
No Effects - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 18 - 21

Gender: Male

Race/Ethnicity: White, Other

Setting (Delivery): Correctional

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, Boot Camps

Targeted Population: Young Offenders, Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Campbell Collaboration, National Reentry Resource Center