Shock Program

March 7, 2004

In our era of high criminal activity something had to be done to eliminate the vast over crowding of today’s prisons. A military type "boot camp" was created to alter offenders’ behavior and deter them from any future criminal activity. This program is said to provide a therapeutic environment and meet the needs of offenders that can still become law‑abiding citizens. The Shock Incarceration Program meets those needs and at the same time meets its goals which are "reducing the demand for bed space in the Department of Correctional Services and treat and release selected state prisoners earlier than court‑mandated minimum sentences without compromising community safety"(Nieto). The paper will discuss the program’s origination, guidelines, eligibility, screening process, and daily activities. An interview with a shock graduate will give a first hand view on the realities of the program.

The New York State Shock Incarceration program was established on July 13, 1987. It was designed for young inmates who could benefit from an intense six month program of incarceration. The legislative bill states "the program would be provided to certain inmates institutionalized to the State Department of Correctional Services who are in need of substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. The program is an alternative form of incarceration that highly stresses discipline, considerable physical work, exercise, and drug rehabilitation therapy. It would build character, gradually implant a sense of maturity and responsibility and promote a positive self image, so they can return to society as law‑abiding citizens." Four facilities were established. The first Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility (SICF) received their first inmates on September 10, 1987. Summit SICF received their first inmates on April 12, 1988, and their female component began in December of 1988. Moriah SICF received its first platoon on March 28, 1989. Lakeview SICF received its first inmates on September 11, 1978. Summits’ female portion of the program was transferred to Lakeview in May of 1992. According to the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1997, There are only seven states that offer this program to women, New York is one of seven states and holds the most women with one hundred and eighty beds available.

New York’s Shock incarceration program is divided into two phases. Phase one consists of an intensive incarceration program operated by DOCS. In phase one an inmate is built around a therapeutic program called "network," which tries to obtain a positive environment to support successful reintegration of inmates into the community. Here inmates are heavily occupied with activities associated with boot camps. Phase two begins after program completion, where an inmate is intensively supervised while in the community by the Division of parole. A program called "AfterShock" assist them with housing, drug and alcohol treatment, relapse prevention, family counseling, and job training and placement.

Each state has its own criteria for inmate eligibility into the program. New York’s judges cannot sentence offenders directly to shock, they must be legally eligible and meet the following criteria. Anyone ages sixteen to thirty‑five years old; nonviolent or sex offenders are not eligible; and parole eligibility has to be less than thirty‑six months; screening is conducted on general suitability (criminal history and nature of current offense) both male and females are eligible. Vermont’s is also a voluntary program it’s two criteria’s for eligibility, one is to be a male, and to be able to work. I Tennessee judges can sentence an offender to mandatory shock incarceration, however, the Department of Corrections can also recommend an inmate. Its criteria are as follows sentenced to prison ages eighteen to thirty‑five, their term must be less than six years and up to twelve for drug offenders. Offense must not involve serious injury, sex offense, or minors they must have good physical and mental health and comprehend and be able to follow instructions. Anyone that meets these criteria for eligibility can move onto the next step, the screening process.

All convicted offenders who are legally eligible for shock incarceration are sent to an orientation and screening process at Lake view Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility. At these interviews’ inmates are informed about the program and must decide whether they want to volunteer for the program instead of serving their full prison term. Participants are carefully examined