- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 1, 2000

Juvenile 'boot camps' can be successful if run properly

When Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening appointed Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as his coordinator of anti-crime efforts, there were problems within the management of the juvenile justice system. Mrs. Townsend recommended the establishment of "boot camps" to teach discipline, respect and pride to Maryland's toughest juvenile criminals. How was she to know that a great idea would turn out to be abused by some undisciplined and sadistic employees ("Five juvenile justice officials lose jobs over boot-camp scandal," Dec. 16)?
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Before we trash the concept of boot camps, let's analyze where the idea came from, the reasons why and the success of these camps.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;On Sept. 24, 1942, at age 17, I enlisted in the Navy and was sent to boot camp at the U.S. Naval Training Station in Great Lakes, Ill. For the next three months, I marched in close order drills, ran obstacle courses and attended classes. While sleeping in a tightly stretched hammock, I was awakened at 3 a.m. and told to remove the black marks off of the wooden deck since I hadn't done it properly. I later learned that the chief petty officer had deliberately made the marks with the black soles of his shoes before turning on the lights and rousing us from our sleep. It was just one of many tactics used to get us used to taking orders. Today, that boot camp is still operating successfully, and the lessons I learned there served me well.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Over the years, there have been a few instances of drill sergeants cruelly mistreating recruits. These misfits have been few in number and have been disciplined severely. The military never discontinued the boot camps. No other training has been so effective and necessary, but it can't be done in a few weeks time.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;There are many reasons why properly run boot camps can be successful in restructuring the lives of our delinquents. You cannot just train them and throw them back into the same filthy drug-infested environment where they were found.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Mrs. Townsend implemented a worthwhile solution. The people she trusted to do the job deserted her when she needed them most.
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;WALTER BOYD
&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;&160;Lutherville, Md.

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