LETTER : Why boot camps will not work for civilian offenders

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The Independent Online
The Government's attempt to use the success rate of the Military Corrective Training Centre for service personnel to defend the centre's use for young offenders is disingenuous.

Research has consistently shown that, while military prisons can be effective in retraining recalcitrant servicemen, they do not reduce reoffending by civilian offenders. This is hardly surprising. Detainees sent to the Military Corrective Training Centre have committed breaches of service discipline, most of which do not constitute criminal offences. The majority had no criminal record before entering the armed forces. On returning to their units, they have the powerful incentive to conform of a future career in the services.

In contrast, young offenders in penal institutions have far more crime- related personal and social problems. On discharge, they are frequently released to unemployment and the inner-city problems that originally led them into criminal activity. Military-style regimes have little if any relevance to these problems.

The best chance of steering young offenders away from further crime lies in regimes providing education, training, help with alcohol and drug abuse, and highly focused work to change attitudes - not marching up and down a parade ground.

Paul Cavadino

Chair, Penal Affairs Consortium, London SW9

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