North Carolina Department of Correction news release

More than 900 complete IMPACT boot camp in 1996

JANUARY 30, 1997

More than 900 young men completed the 90-day IMPACT boot camp and worked on projects that saved taxpayers $1.5 million last year.

"These young men are much better for it," IMPACT Director John Taylor said. "They received a second chance and its well worth the effort we've put into it. Many will avoid a further life of crime."

IMPACT has a 180-bed boot camp near Hoffman and a 180-bed boot camp near Morganton. Judges send males, ages 16 to 30, to boot camp as a condition of probation. Last year, 911 trainees completed the program.

Like military boot camps, IMPACT stresses discipline and hard work. Trainees are up before the sun for calisthenics and learn to march with military precision. They work eight hours a day and study in the evening.

The IMPACT trainees were one of the first squads from the Department of Correction to reach the coast and help residents clear debris from hurricanes Bertha and Fran. "We can move fast," Taylor said. "With our staff, training and equipment, we can put a self-contained squad of trainees to work quickly in emergency situations."

In 1996, IMPACT trainees worked 374,666 hours on 153 community service projects. Their labor was free, but at minimum wage the work would have cost communities and public agencies $1.59 million.

After a day's work, trainees study for the high school equivalency test, the GED. "We had 70 percent pass the test last year," Taylor said. "We're talking about guys who work eight hours a day and spend two-and-a-half hours a night studying." In 1996, 223 trainees passed the exam.

Next year, IMPACT will add drug treatment provided by the department's Division of Alcohol and Chemical Dependency Programs. Work is getting underway to add a dormitory and dining hall that will provide the state's first boot camp for females by 1998.