It took a prison guard’s compulsive sexual behavior to draw the critical eye of Delaware corrections officials to a boot camp program intended for troubled youth, and subsequently shut it down.
The Sussex Boot Camp, which opened in 1997 at the Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) in Georgetown, Delaware, “does not meet the treatment needs of our offender population,” state DOC Commissioner Robert Coupe said in February 2014 in a written statement announcing the end of the program.
The program’s closure followed the release of a two-month analysis of its ineffectiveness in lowering recidivism rates, which was itself proceeded by the November 2013 arrest of boot camp drill instructor Christopher Peck, 39, who allegedly had sex with three of the program’s female prisoners.
Delaware State Police charged Peck with 11 counts of sexual relations in a detention facility stemming from allegations he had sex with the women – aged 19, 27 and 28 – consistently for four months beginning in July 2013.
After Peck’s arrest, the University of Delaware’s Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies began its analysis of the boot camp’s outcomes and concluded in its 19-page report that the program had not achieved a documented lower recidivism rate.
Contrary to the boot camp’s original mission, older prisoners were recruited into the program as a result of “sentencing guidelines and overcrowding,” the report said, rather than the “youthful, first-time offender” the boot camp purported to rehabilitate.
“Some cadets,” the report noted, “had more than 15 prior felony arrests.”
Many cadets had been convicted of drug sales. According to the report, agreeing to submit to the boot camp’s six-month regimen only as a means to avoid longer prison sentence, not as an opportunity for a more promising future, post-release.
Earlier reports and current staff note that drug dealers find the program convenient to reduce long sentences, thus are more likely to graduate, but are less likely to be rehabilitated by the process,” the report said.
With the boot camp’s closure, SCI is now an all-male facility. All of the program’s staff was reassigned to other positions at SCI.
Sources: www.delawareonline.com, The Associated Press,publicradiodelmarva.net, www.wmdt.com
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