In local news, we spend a lot of time talking about crime and occasionally punishment; but what about rehabilitation? Is it worth the effort?


In a special edition of Facing South Florida, CBS4’s Jim DeFede takes you inside the last remaining boot camp in the state, a place where young offenders between the age of 16 and 24 are given a second – and some would say – a last chance.

The program had been on the chopping block but a day after CBS4 aired the Last Chance Boot Camp segment, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez sent a memo to county commissioners saying he was restoring the boot camp’s $3.5 million budget.

County commissioners were trying to decide whether to shut it down; not because it doesn’t work, but simply to save money.

The program costs $4 million a year to operate.

CBS4 News spent four months following one particular class of carjackers, burglars and armed robbers. Some will embrace this opportunity. Others will not.

Boot camps are an inherent gamble.

The safe play would be to send the offender to prison, where it costs just $47.50 a day to house and feed them. But this is a long-term bet. If the program succeeds in keeping them from spending years warehoused in prison then taxpayers will save far more over time.

A five year prison term costs taxpayers $86,690.

The 16-month boot camp costs just $46,453.

More important than the money, though, is the hope the program will keep these young offenders from committing new crimes and new victims.

The recidivism rate for those coming out of prison is 27 percent.

But within the boot camp it’s only 11 percent.

As Miami Dade Circuit Court Judge Nushin Sayfie, a supporter of boot camps told CBS4: “We’re trying to ultimately create a person that is going to be a functioning member of society and not create a person that is going to come out of prison and be a bigger, badder, better criminal.”

The county budget, including the renewed funding for the boot camp, will be approved September 18th. The next platoon of cadets is expected to start the program the following day.

Last Chance Boot Camp (Source: CBS4)

Last Chance Boot Camp (Source: CBS4)

Last Chance: Boot Camp Segment 1

Last Chance: Boot Camp Segment 2

Last Chance: Boot Camp Segment 3