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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction IPP - History

Ohio's first experience with intensive program prisons began in 1991, when the Department responded to a legislative mandate to establish a pilot project of a Shock Incarceration program based on the "boot camp" model.[1] The legislation specified that the program "...shall consist of a military style combination of discipline, physical training, and hard labor and substance abuse education, employment skills training, social skills training, and psychological treatment."[2] Under the shock incarceration statute, the offender's sentence was to be considered completed upon successful conclusion of the ninety-day institutional program and the appropriate post-release supervision period.

The Shock Incarceration Pilot Program for male offenders opened at Camp Reams (at the Southeastern Correctional Institution) in the summer of 1991, accommodating one hundred participants; Camp Meridian, for female offenders, opened at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in 1995, with forty beds. Both programs emphasized the military-style boot camp as required by the authorizing statute.

Historically, one of the most attractive characteristics of shock incarceration programs was the promise they held for reducing prison populations. In fact, an early survey of correctional officials (MacKenzie and Souryal, 1992) showed that officials strongly believed that the reduction of prison populations, easing of overcrowding and lowering of correctional costs were the primary purposes of these kinds of programs.

Our Department's experience with the early years of Camp Reams and Camp Meridian were fairly typical of the experiences of other jurisdictions. A departmental Oversight Team (1998) reported that the population in both camps rarely reached the capacity of the program; in fact, the population of Camp Reams was, at best, at about 80 percent of capacity, and the Camp Meridian population averaged about 54 percent of capacity. Additionally, sentencing judges appeared to be vetoing about 45 percent of the requests for intensive program prison placement. Finally, the voluntary drop-out rate at Camp Reams exceeded 25 percent. The combined effect of these problems was to negate any impact that the programs might have had on population.

So common were these types of problems across jurisdictions that Parent (1996) developed a list of factors that appear to be necessary for shock incarceration programs to actually reduce prison populations. The factors applicable to our situation in Ohio are:

  • These kinds of programs must target offenders who otherwise would have served moderately long periods of time, not those who would have been released in just a few months.
  • Programs must minimize in-program failure rates. Parent (1996) suggests that program participants should not be permitted to withdraw during the first few weeks of the program and that a range of rewards and sanctions be available to manage in-program misbehavior.
  • Programs must operate with a large capacity to have even a negligible impact on prison population.
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The final report of the Oversight Team recommended that the Department commission a major study of the shock incarceration process, in order to highlight issues regarding the utilization of shock incarceration beds and to focus on the recruitment and selection aspects of the process. The results of this study (King et al., 1998) reinforced earlier speculation that the combination of statutory and administrative criteria screened out a large number of potential participants, that many inmates declined to participate because of the post-release halfway house and supervision requirements, and that the military-style environment was not viewed positively by otherwise-eligible inmates.

Additionally, corrections professionals were beginning to examine the "boot camp" approach in light of the growing body of "what works?" literature, which argued, inter alia, that intensive treatment should be reserved for offenders who pose a higher risk of reoffending than the inmates traditionally selected for shock incarceration programs and that the most effective programs were those that targeted the criminogenic needs of offenders.

At about the same time, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 2, a sweeping change in sentencing and punishment philosophy for the State. Among the many changes contained in the new criminal code was the authorization for the Department to develop and implement "intensive program prisons" throughout the corrections system.[3] In addition to the previously-established military-style programs, the statute specifically listed "...educational achievement, vocational training, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment, community service and conservation work, and other intensive regimens or combinations of intensive regimens."[4] At almost the same time, Senate Bill 166 (effective in late 1996) established intensive program prisons for certain offenders who had been convicted of DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) offenses.[5]

Thus, the Department has evolved through several phases of intensive program prison development. The first phase was the establishment of the male boot camp as a pilot project in 1991, followed by the opening of the female boot camp in 1995. In the second phase, the Department altered the character of the boot camp programs, de-emphasizing the military style of program operation and focusing more program time on reentry-oriented activities (e.g., parenting skills, community service projects, etc.). Finally, in the late 1990s, the Department created the sentence-reduction intensive program for DUI offenders at the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility.

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King, Tammy, S. A. Jenkins, T. Galicia, and D. Metzinger. (1998) Intensive Program Prison Process Study. Youngstown OH: Youngstown State University, Criminal Justice Department.

MacKenzie, Doris L. and C. Souryal. (1992). "Boot Camp Survey: Rehabilitation, Recidivism, Population Reduction Outrank Punishment as Main Goals." Corrections Today.

Oversight Team for Intensive Program Prisons. (1998) Report of the Oversight Team for Intensive Program Prisons. Columbus OH: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Parent, Dale. (1996). Boot Camps and Prison Crowding. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

[1] O.R.C. § 5120.03.1, eff. 11-20-90 [2] O.R.C. § 5120.03.1 (B)(2)(a) [3] O.R.C. § 5120.03.2 (eff. 7-1-96) [4] O.R.C. § 5120.03.2 (A) [5] O.R.C. § 5120.03.3

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