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Boot camps yet another Key failure

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, February 15th, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: crime, john key - Tags: , ,

Key has failed on the economy, failed on closing the gaps with Australia, failed on creating jobs, failed on reducing crime, failed on reducing beneficiary numbers, and failed on keeping various (no increase to GST!) election promises. Now we have confirmation of the failure of yet another flagship election promise, boot camps.

Boot camps were the central plank of the Nats’ “Youth Plan”. Key told us that they would “fight a growing youth crime wave and ensure young people get into education or training” and “defuse these unexploded human time-bombs”. Key was warned (and warned and warned and warned) that boot camps don’t work. But the Nats were determined to carry on regardless. Even when roundly “booed” by his audience Key plaintively insisted that “they actually do work”.

Well, the facts are now in and — surprise! — no they don’t.

Just four days ago the government was trying to keep the results of the first boot camp cohort secret. Seems that didn’t go down too well, because the figures have since been released in a report from the Minister of Social Development’s office. They show that bootcamp graduates have a 50% reoffending rate within just the first year. Furthermore:

“If that report is correct, then the reoffending rate is likely to be in the order of 65 – 70% after two years of course completion. That means that the course will have made very little difference for most, and will have increased the likelihood of offending for some.

“The Ministry of Social Development staff should not be blamed for the poor outcome. The programme design was forced on them by those who knew that the measure would have popular public support.

Well, that’s what happens when you ignore the advice of every available expert and let prejudice and hubris write your policy for you. Add it to the ever growing list of Key’s failures.


36 comments on “Boot camps yet another Key failure”

  1. Roadcone 1

    All these camps will ever produce is fitter,and physicaly stronger crims sadly.
    the aim of any rehab has to be in the homes and from a very early age

  2. Zetetic 2

    So. Boot camp is less effective than home detention.

    “overall reconviction rate of offenders who started Supervision, Community Work and Front-end Home Detention was 58% over five years.”


    anti-spam: statistic

    • lyndon 2.1

      Title page: “A 60-months follow-up analysis”

      As oppossed to people who graduateded last year, which implies an average of less. If you think of the reoffending rate as something like an atomic half-life, you’ll appreciate there’s a difference.

      OTOH, with serious offenders reoffending is very likely – the seriousness is also important in deciding if your intervention has worked.

      Calculating the actual effect it’s had on risk is a difficult job that does need more information. (I have an OIA says as of November they hadn’t signed off on a monitoring or assessment framework, so I don’t think it can be done.)

  3. higherstandard 3

    Did you read the report ? – the closing remark from the authors.

    “Offenders who commence their offending careers during their teenage years are considerably more likely to become persistent offenders. This study has established a very strong (inverse) correlation between age of first conviction and reconviction. Interventions with youth offenders are thus an important priority and, to the extent to which they are effective, have significant “down-stream” benefits.”

    • And your point is HS?

      The conclusion says that early intervention is important. Boot camps are at the end of the line. They are only for the really hard core offenders. If you want to do something about crime then you have to intervene earlier in a more therapeutic manner. Better to deal with their problems at the age of 13 or 14, and way better at the age of 2 when it is already predictable which kids will get into trouble.

      BUT, and this is the bit you will hate, it costs money. You save money in the long run, a couple of thousand now is better than a hundred thousand a year later on for a cell but tories tend to cut budgets because there is a short term gain that appears in the next year’s budget.

      The other problem with youth camps is they do this regimented penalty and then go home to the same old problems, poverty, drugs, marginalisation, booze.

      This policy always was a PR job. It does not change a thing. It was utterly predictable that the policy would fail.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 3.2

      Its pyscho babble . Your point is ?

      • lyndon 3.2.1

        The quote from the report? Um, it’s hard statistics. If you can’t tell the difference perhaps you should leave the conversation to the grownups.

        The point is youth interventions are important and you need to concentrate on things you can show reduce reoffending rather than, for example, things that have previously been shown not to.

  4. Hilary 4

    While that multi-systemic residential programme for young offenders, Te Hurihanga, set up by Judge Henwood and others and which has had no reoffending, has been cancelled (and the government falsely conflated set up costs with intervention costs as an excuse). I hear that the Court report interview with Judge Henwood is replaying on TV7 on Thursday night at 9.30 where she explains how it worked.

    • Good point.

      Judge Henwood’s programme was expensive but very successful.

      The nats needed a photo opportunity though and did not want to spend any more money. So just as they have in a number of other areas they cancelled a perfectly good programme and replaced it with a photo op and a programme that pushed all of the PR buttons but which was going to fail.

    • M 4.2

      Hilary, thanks for the heads up on the programme – sounds like a must see.

  5. Roger 5

    “Well, that’s what happens when you ignore the advice of every available expert and let prejudice and hubris write your policy for you.”

    We are well and truly done for then. This is the same policy approach that is being used for primary education (National Standards) and welfare. What will happen when these kids working under national standards get to 15-18 years old and have poorer educational outcomes and the welfare system treats them as the enemy? They will turn to crime. Then what? Bigger bootcamps?

  6. JS 6

    To address the complex issues of offending you need expensive stuff such as people and mentors to work across all the areas of the young person’s life and with their family too. Have education and employment skills training too. Build trust and all that expensive stuff. But if it works it saves so much money on no reoffending. Simple. Boot camps don’t work but make great photo opportunities.

  7. ianmac 7

    There used to be residential facilities like the one outside Levin. Kohitere and Hokio Beach? Boys were sent there by the Courts for months and in excellent facilities fed, exercised, educated. Then when their sentence ended they went back to their original environment – and carried on reoffending. So the units were closed down in the 80s as they were not considered cost-effective except while the boys were there. (It was rumoured that the boys liked it so much that some absconded near the end of their sentence, stole cars and were sent back for more time, which is what they wanted!)
    The answer? While the poverty, poor education outcomes, unemployment, bad company exist, it needs much more than Boot camps or Kohitere so………

    • kriswgtn 7.1

      actually Kohitere wasnt exactly the holiday you described
      my older brother was there- educated? hahahahahha what a joke- 3 weeks schoolin and then @ the age of 14 he was made to work in the forest overlooking levin for 18 months – learning to prune?? more like slave labour and this was common in that place
      But he never reoffended again after Kohitere

      and as for the place being liked- hahah another joke

      My brother is @ the mom in the process of taking CYFS to court along with hundreds of others because of the inhumane treatment they got
      the beatings from staff and other **inmates**

      • ianmac 7.1.1

        I did not describe it as a holiday. Like the Boot Camp, inmates were subjected to order and discipline and some sort of work experience, in very good facilities for many months even years. Full indoor pool, gymnasium, good basic food. I did not hear of any “mistreatment” but it may have happened.
        I thought that my main point was that even with the best of intentions and all the gears, Camps or Kohitere style appears to not the means by which people are “saved.” So what would work?

        • ianmac

          Your older brother must be quite old now kriswgtn?

          • kriswgtn

            hes 46

            He told us only a couple of years ago what he went through while there

            beatings and raped – they had nightly **kangaroo courts** which were stompings and staff apparently did nothing to stop it

            Guess it worked though,he never re offended after he was discharged in 1980

            and he was ward of the state until he was 21,which meant if he had of re offended he would have been sent back

            Now hes married has a good job etc etc

            But he came home a hard ass, alot harder than before he was sent there.

            • ianmac

              No one would wish such a hard cruel experience on youth but great that your brother has survived. Congratulations brother.

              • kriswgtn

                🙂 I’ll pass it on to him when I see him next

                My thoughts on such places is that they dont work- they network and most go onto harder crimes

                Something needs to be done re the youth of today- WORK /jobs not boot camp

                Maybe the hope of a future?
                They sure as hell aint getting it from Nacts

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    John Key pushes successful young NZ’ers into Australian jobs.

    He pushes struggling young NZ’ers into the meat grinder.

    • Tel 8.1

      💡 …and once he’s finished with the meat grinder, it’ll be sold off to a private company for a song, so they can grind up the NZ’ers left over.

  9. marsman 9

    John Key is a failure.

  10. Bright Red 10

    according to Budget 2010, the Fresh Start programme spent $8.6 million last year and is budgeted for $22 million this year.

    How many kids are going through this programme and how is it cheaper than those programmes they closed, especially given it has failed to reduce offending?

  11. randal 11

    of course boot camps are a failure.
    just another example of kiwis thinking that there thoughts a re facts and the deisre to get the CONTRACT.
    money honey.
    all the promoters of these affairs think that because they say boot camps are going to work then they will.
    national is the party of business (so they say).
    let the market discipline these people.

  12. M 12

    Love the photo of John Key, classic body language for a child who’s just told a lie.

  13. tc 13

    Another fail but you gotta love that consistency where they ” ignore the advice of every available expert and let prejudice and hubris write your policy for you….” across the board and then stand back looking to spin it as not their fault….tui’s leadership.

    Sideshow John and his beehive dealing room are not competant or mature enough to accept responsibility for any of their wrecking ball policies so it’s important their colaition partner the MP standing up for…..oh hang on….mmmm, when’s the next pane to Oz leave.

  14. JS 14

    Kriswgtn – has your brother contacted the Confidential and Listening Service? It is also run by Judge Henwood and is for people in state care who have been the subjects of abuse (before 1992). It’s to tell their stories and be listened to respectfully. Not sure what else but that is a start.

    • kriswgtn 14.1

      I dont think he would be interested.

      He is involved in a class action suit along with hundreds of others
      although Chris Findlayson has been doing his upmost to stop it ie
      making sure their legal aid applications get declined
      my brother however doesnt have legal aid

      He is paying his own way through court

      As he continually says its closure only when he has his day in court

      I think he needs to do this and should have done it years ago because he has had to carry this around with him since end of 1979 and he only started this 18 months ago or so

      I would like my brother back not the angry frustrated man that is he at the moment

      • pollywog 14.1.1

        Yeah that whole angry frustrated thing sucks. My oldest bro is a woulda, coulda, shoulda been if only shit hadn’t happened blah blah blah…

        I keep telling him, comes a time when you got a man up and take responsibility for your life, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and he’s like “yeah yeah yeah but…”


        he’s 46 too

  15. seeker 15

    @ ian mac 9.48am “Camps or Kohitere style appears to not be the means by which people are “saved.” So what would work?”

    This type of thing:

    “To address the complex issues of offending you need expensive stuff such as people and mentors to work across all the areas of the young person’s life and with their family too. Have education and employment skills training too. Build trust and all that expensive stuff. But if it works it saves so much money on no reoffending. Simple. Boot camps don’t work but make great photo opportunities.”

    “Trust” being the operative word here.” Billy Graham in Naenae and some other do great work with youth and are trusted by them.This approach is more like ‘re-booting’ as opposed to ‘boot camp’. All children need to experience trust if they are to be trusted themselves, rather than being given the life draining experience of continually being let down by the inadequate adults in their life.Everyone is deserving of a helping hand at some time or another – especially our youngsters.

    Shame on Key for being so pig headed with his inadequate ‘boot camp’ answer to the needs of our troubled youth. Another group of young people have probably been lost, and they/we only have one life. What a waste.

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