While there are many people that advocate the use of boot camps on troubled youths, there are many people who are against the idea of juvenile boot camps. Those who argue against boot camps believe that they are penal in nature and that their military-like structure ignores the emotional needs of the youth. Those who argue in support of boot camps do not deny that they have a military-structure, but believe that the military-like setting provides disorderly youth with the structure and discipline that they lack. There are merits to both arguments.
The pros of boot camps are often immediately visible. While incarcerated, many of the youth experience an immediate change in behavior. Taken out of a situation where they can resist authority, many of these juveniles demonstrate a new respect for authority and a willingness to conform to societal expectations. Furthermore, taken away from the opportunity to commit crime, most juveniles do not engage in criminal behavior while in the boot camp. Furthermore, many youth actually experience an increase in academic skills immediately following incarceration in a boot camp setting (U.S. Dept. of Justice, 19-20). Furthermore, those youth involved in aftercare programs took positive steps towards accomplishing their individual goals (U.S. Dept. of Justice, 20). .
The drawbacks of boot camps can be difficult to see, but are frequently as dramatic as the benefits. For example, the National Mental Health Association indicates that boot camps are not appropriate for the incarceration and treatment of troubled youth. It believes that boot camps do not reduce recidivism, are not cost effective, and do not lead to lasting changes (National Mental Health Association). Furthermore, they argue that the confrontational style used in boot camps is inappropriate when working with many of the groups most likely to end up in boot camp, including members of minority groups and the mentally disturbed (National Mental Health Association).