Shock Incarceration



Shockincarceration is a type of sentencing that is designed to provide theoffenders with education, counseling, drug abuse treatment and otherhelp to support their re-assimilation in the community (Snyder,2006). It is a short-sentence (12-30 months) that is given to first–time offenders, whose main objective is to develop law abidingcitizens. In the United States, it exists at the local and federallevel and is intended to rehabilitate rather than punish offenders.Most of the programs of this nature in the U.S only accept offendersbelow the 30 year. Nonetheless in some states older offenders areaccepted (Snyder, 2006).


Shockincarceration serves to reduce overcrowding in prisons bytransferring offenders with a short-time sentence to boot camps,rehabilitating and punishing criminals, teaching restraint anddiscipline all in a bid to lower recidivism (Abadinsky, 2012).Normally shock incarceration last for 3-6 months and convicts aregiven military like training, teaching, psychotherapy on angermanagement, and work on community fields and counseling to redeemthem from drug abuse. The restorative approach entails drill andceremonies, community restitution, physical labor (Snyder, 2006).

Effectivenessof shock incarceration

Shockincarceration has come under intense denigration due to the manyincidents where the staff has been accused of maltreatment and abuseof inmates. Research has indicated that shock incarceration have notachieved goals that they were anticipated by designers and proponentsof the program (Snyder, 2006). Shock incarceration has failed toreform offenders, and the rate of recidivism recorded is similar tothat of individuals under detention. This failure has been linked tothe fact that many programs have overemphasized on physical excursioninstead of a rehabilitative program. Even though these programs haveplayed a big role in reducing overcrowding in jails, they consumecolossal sums of money and have posed a heavy burden on the taxpayer,a burden that they were supposed to reduce (Snyder, 2006). Researchhas also revealed that these programs are less helpful to offenderswho have issues related to substance abuse. Nonetheless, theassociations between offenders who have committed similar offencesenable them to share experiences and tribulations with their peers, aelements that has made it possible to rehabilitate inmates.


Abadinsky,H. (2012). Probationand parole: Theory and practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Snyder,G. (2006).WhatMakes Juvenile Boot Camps Popular, and Do They Work? Retrievedfrom: