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WHITTIER : Initial Group at Inmate Boot Camp Graduates

January 20, 1994

Seven youthful offenders have graduated from a rigorous boot camp in Whittier after four months of strict military-style living that included marching drills, pushups, flag-raisings and substance-abuse counseling.

The young men, who walked through the barbed-wire gates of the Fred C. Nelles School last week, volunteered for the program in exchange for shortened sentences, and will meet with parole officers at least once a week for the next six months.

"They're off to a real good start," said Capt. Michael Naquin, who heads the program. "They grew up while they were here and made some strides in maturity."

Parents, officials with the California Youth Authority and Gov. Pete Wilson attended a graduation ceremony Friday. The LEAD program, which stands for leadership, esteem, ability and discipline--is the second of two boot camps set up by the Youth Authority within a year. The other is near Sacramento.

All the cadets at Nelles, aged 16 to 21, are in custody for parole violations or because of drug, burglary or other nonviolent offenses. Many are former gang members.

The seven graduates were among an initial class of 15 who began the program in September. Seven cadets were required to take more training. Another was transferred back to the general population at Nelles because he was unwilling to follow the rules, Naquin said.

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