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Boot Camp Justice for Juvenile Offenders | Georgia Stories


In the past five years, the crime rate
for Georgians under the age of 17 has more than doubled. To deal with the
rising number of young people who break the law, the state has created a new
program, a kind of military-style boot camp that’s meant to scare kids straight.
So welcome to Milledgeville’s’ Camp Stop, one camp where you don’t want to spend
your summer vacation. First call! First call! Rise and shine men! On your feet! Let’s get the racks made tight! Rack made tight! 5:30 a.m. and
the boys of barracks one are getting a rude wake-up call. The routine at camp
stop doesn’t change, every minute is accounted for and the sergeant’s never
let up. *Overlapping calls of “Fall out!” and “Move, Move, Move!” this is a wake-up call in more ways than
one. These young teenagers are all in trouble
with the law, mostly for nonviolent offenses and a
judge has ordered them here for up to 90 days. *Drill Sargent shouting orders and the boys repeating them* It can be scary if you are only 14
years old never been away from home, never been locked up.
Norton G was sent here for fighting with another kid for carrying a BB gun.
He says hanging out with the wrong crowd got him in trouble. You say you don’t
want to do it but they call you chicken now you’re gonna wanna show your friends that you’re not chicken. *Sergeant calling drills* Sergeant ajor Richard hurt was in the Army for ten years and served in
three wars. He’s a strong believer in the strict discipline of this boot camp type
approach. Because life is not easy. Now if I go through life treaten you like it’s so
easy, you’re not gonna grow up. You don’t think lifes gonna be easy. When you get
back outside this gate, it’s gonna be tough. You’re gonna have confrontations
every day and that’s all I teach them if they could deal with the confrontation
I’m given them, they could deal with anything because outside it’s even tougher. All that trash you did when you were outside, you’re gonna leave it outside. Is that clear young man? You better sound back when I’m talking to you. Is that clear? Sir yes sir From day, one the idea is to make it so tough that kids never want to come back here.
Everyone has to look and act the same. New recruits have their heads shaved, no
fashion statements here. Life on the inside is Spartan. There is no TV or
radio. The recruits only contact with the outside world is a five-minute phone
call once a week. Basically you just want to wake them up, let them know that this
is not a game. We try to bring that awareness to that everything they did on
outside, that’s one of the reason they was here. What’s your name again young man? All of this may seem harsh even
cruel but the true purpose is to help these kids turn their lives around.
That wasn’t the case 50 years ago. Back then, prisoners were abused and no one cared. *Singing “I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang”* This 1932 movie is based on the book “I
am a fugitive from a Georgia chain gang” written by an inmate who escaped and
went into hiding. It shocked the nation and led to prison reform. It told of the
horrible conditions on Georgia chain gangs, of inmates forced to wear leg
irons and shackles, of meals made up of red beans and worms, of whippings at the
hands of cruel guards. *Singing about hard work* There are no leg irons here at Camp Stop, only a mile and
a half of chain-link fence and barbed wire. The boys get three hot meals a day. The emphasis is on strong bodies and strong
minds. *Teacher explaining a math problem* Recruits attend school every day, studying such basics as math, English, and
history just like they would at home and they learn lessons outside of the
classroom too, lessons about life. But I think you was inconsiderate yourself by lieing to the staff because you knew it was can catch up with you in the long run, eventually. For example, in this group session the boy in the hot seat has done something
wrong and the rest of the platoon both criticizes and comforts him. At Camp Stop, if anyone does something wrong everyone has to pay, usually during exercise
period. The kid in the hot seat starts out tough but soon starts to cry. He
realizes that his actions affect the other kids and if he wants their respect
he has to respect them too. The way I teach them, it’s like this. If you got a friend
trying to talk to you in to doing wrong he’s not your friend. *Sargent Yells* After two months at Camp Stop, Norton G has learned to think about the consequences of what he chooses to
do. He says he’ll think twice before letting friends get him in trouble again. You can say no and it’s alright to say no because when you read about them in the
newspaper, you can say wow that could have been me right there, and I would
have been with them getting 5 or 10 years from now and we’ve been just five
or ten more years of your life gone. Norton wants to be a lawyer one day. He’s
already gone from flunking out to making B’s and C’s. When he goes home he plans
to set a good example for other neighborhood kids. It would make me feel bad if
saw my younger brother fight. I don’t have a younger brother but if I had a younger brother,
and I see him following the same footsteps as mine, I’d be real mad cuz I’m not
doing my job as older brother. Those are just the kind of results that the
Sergeant Major expects from these kids. And that’s why I’m hard. I’m hard but
fair and everybody knows that. So like I tell them, regardless whether they like
it or not, my goal is to help and I will. *Singing “No more bootcamp, we’re going home”* *End Screen Music*

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