California's Boot Camp Blunder

Daniel Macallair, the executive director of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice has some harsh words for Gov. Gray Davis's ill-conceived and implemented Turning Point Academy in Boot Camp Blunder.

The program was initiated as a response to the Columbine shootings. Politicians saw it as a quick fix and a means of showing the public they were not being soft on juvenile crime.

Turning Point was initially funded with $19 million. It was designed to hold 320 teens. The eligibility requirements were so strict that the first year, only one teen qualified. By the time it finally closed, only 34 teens had passed through, at a cost of over 12 million.

According to Macallair, "Political operatives instituted the policy without input from officials in public health, child welfare, or juvenile justice. "

"The Turning Point Academy represents the folly of instituting policies for political symbolism rather than public good. With the state's child-welfare systems overloaded and juvenile-justice services insufficient and ineffective, a responsible use for these public dollars could have been found."

Military training is not a quick fix. As Macallair aptly points out, "Decisions affecting the state's children should be based on concern for solving social needs -- and not on political calculations."

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