July, 21 2017

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Louisiana Officials Want a Boot Camp to Help Troubled Teens

Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow wants to create a youth boot camp to address juvenile crime among troubled teens.

"We want a military-style program similar to a boot camp - some place where kids could be sent rather than having to send them to a juvenile facility," Gallow told the Opelousas Noon Rotary Club Tuesday.

"This has worked in other parts of the state. This could encourage our youth to become productive citizens," Gallow said.

He said several of his officers with military experience are eager to run such a program. "They are more than willing," Gallow said. The problem now is money.

"We are still working out the details. I've meet with (state Sen. Donald) Cravins and (U.S. Rep. Charles) Boustany to try to find a means to get this done. Both have expressed their interest," Gallow said.

He said juvenile crime is an important and growing concern. He pointed to a recent string of burglaries on the southside of the city.

"We arrested three juveniles." Gallow said. "Two really didn't see anything wrong with what they had done. That is a clear indication of a lack of supervision."

While increased parental supervision and a stronger school truancy program are important - one of the troubled youth was skipping school to rob the houses - Gallow said it is important to intervene in the lives of these young people before they grow into hardened adult criminals.

"Juvenile crime is a concern but a bigger concern is the level of punishment. It needs to be severe enough to make them think twice about committing another crime," Gallow said.

In addition to serving as punishment, Gallow said such boot camps, which typically allocate more than half of each day to education and counseling activities, can help instill values in the children from 10 to 16 years of age.

"It will help build self-esteem and discipline in them to the point where they believe they can succeed, where they want to succeed," Gallow said.

Such boot camps have been around since 1983 when the Oklahoma Department of Corrections opened the nation's first youth boot camp. Today there are dozens of such camps in states throughout the nation, including several in Louisiana.

The programs range from five-day programs such as the one in Ontario, N.Y., to the 300-day boot camp in New Orleans. The average program is 90 days.

Some experts doubt the effectiveness of such programs, pointing to high subsequent repeat crime rates by program graduates. But John Wertz, commander of the Quehanna Boot Camp in Pennsylvania, said they can make an important difference. In an article inLaw Enforcement Technologymagazine, he pointed out that of the 90 young people who had gone through his boot camp, only four would later return to jail.

The difference appears to be how extensive the post boot camp monitoring is. Experts recommend a minimum of six to nine months follow up
counseling.

Related Articles:
Information about Boarding Schools in Virginia 1/27/08
Climbing Higher to Help Troubled Teens in Indiana 1/26/08
Funding Shortages Close California Shelters for Runaway Teens 1/24/08
Illinois Program for Troubled Youth Loses Funding 1/23/08
Canadian Wilderness Therapy Program Helps Troubled Teens
California Holds Classes for Parents of Troubled Youth 1/22/08
Wisconsin Committee Plans to Help Troubled Teens 10/22/08
Florida Lawmakers Find Mentors for Struggling Teens 1/18/08
Arizona Home for Troubled Teens Investigated 1/16/08
Pennsylvania Home offers Help for Troubled Teens 1/17/08


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