1st Edition

The Evidence Enigma Correctional Boot Camps and Other Failures in Evidence-Based Policymaking

By Tiffany Bergin Copyright 2013
    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    Why do policymakers sometimes adopt policies that are not supported by evidence? How can scholars and practitioners encourage policymakers to listen to research? This book explores these questions, presenting a fascinating case study of a policy that did not work, yet spread rapidly to almost every state in the United States: the policy of correctional boot camps. Examining the claims on which the implementation of the policy were based, including the assertions that such boot camps would reduce reoffending, save public money and ease overcrowding - none of which proved to be universally accurate - The Evidence Enigma also investigates the political, economic, cultural, and other factors which encouraged the spread of this policy. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to test hypotheses, as the author draws rich comparisons with other policies, including Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), abstinence-only sex education programs, and the electronic monitoring or tagging of offenders in England and Wales. Presenting important lessons for guarding against the proliferation of policies that don't work in future, this ground-breaking and accessible book will be of interest to those working in the fields of criminology, sociology and social and public policy.

    Contents: Introduction; Evidence-based policymaking; Correctional boot camps in the United States; Research evidence and the diffusion of public policies; Quantitative models of the diffusion and contraction of boot camps; Case studies of two states; Further analysis and future implications; References; Appendix; Index.


    Tiffany Bergin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Kent State University, USA.

    ’After 40 years of tough on crime policies it has suddenly become fashionable for political leaders to embrace "evidence based" policies going forward but until we understand how we got here, trust in evidence is an unlikely guide. Tiffany Bergin's rigorous multi-method study of the once promising "boot camp" model for corrections reveals how culture and politics drove one of the most highly touted but failed crime policies of the 1980s and 1990s.’ Jonathan Simon, University of California, Berkeley, USA '... a wide ranging and sometimes surprising account of the rise and fall of correctional boot camps in the United States.' Prison Service Journal