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 Blog Post

Quehanna Boot Camp Hits Major Milestone

October 26, 2020 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

PA Coat of Arms

Submitted by Ellen McMahon, Unit Manager

On Oct. 7, Quehanna Boot Camp graduated its 10,000th inmate from the Boot Camp program. This particular platoon of 34 inmates not only contained the 10,000th graduate, but also has the distinction of being the first platoon of the COVID-19 lockdown. The participants arrived at QBC in mid-March at the cusp of the pandemic and began Boot Camp orientation with some necessary adjustments to the program.

During a typical Boot Camp experience, inmates rise at 5:15 a.m. for head calls, stretching and physical training prior to showers and breakfast. They spend their day at work, school, treatment groups and learning military concepts. They have no televisions, radios or internet, and their every move is structured and controlled by their drill instructors. Dinner, more PT, drill and ceremony, studying and uniform maintenance are followed by lights out at 9:30 p.m.

Participation in the 6-month program is voluntary, but it's not an easy path; some sign out while others who can't adapt are removed through a disciplinary process. Most do persevere however, as evidenced by the program's approximate graduation rate of 83 percent. The final payoff is parole and most are released to a home plan to reunite with their families.

Boot Camp is one of three alternative sentencing programs in the PA DOC and delivers multiple rewards: the shorter incarceration provides a savings to the Commonwealth; the program has a lower recidivism rate than traditional incarceration; and it provides a framework of discipline and structure on which inmates can begin to build work ethic, a recovery plan and a healthier lifestyle.

The first Boot Camp platoon graduated in 1992, with only eight inmates. Since then the program has grown to 50 inmates per platoon at intervals of 6-8 weeks. New legislation has updated the eligibility requirements, but the basics remain the same:  discipline and physical training coupled with an emphasis on work ethic, sobriety and successful reentry. The formula continues to succeed and as a result, the program continues to thrive.

"With the devotion and hard work of caring staff, the Boot Camp program has been able to achieve this milestone of graduating 10,000 inmates. We are grateful for the support of our leaders over the years and look forward to providing future opportunities for positive change to those in need," Commander Frazer Blake said.

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