MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON -- Combating minor infractions, rather than destroying a young Marine's career, is the focus of the Correctional Custody Unit that will be implemented here next month.
The CCU provides commanding officers with the means to discipline first term Marines, lance corporal and below, without resorting to a court-martial conviction.
If the command feels that a Marine is salvageable, they can send him to CCU, said Master Sgt. Tab Gillespie, CCU administrator. "It a second chance for them."
A Marine or sailor that has committed a minor offense, such as fighting or unauthorized absence, would be a candidate for CCU.
Once assigned to the CCU, the individual will be required to do hard labor.
"Hard labor is nothing more than general-labor working parties, which will include, grass cutting, weed whacking and police calling," he said.
"The intensity level of the program and the regimental environment are all profound factors that make the program a desirable alternative to help put a Marine or sailor back on the right path vice taking them to a courts-martial."
The Marines will have weekly formal inspections and physical fitness tests, as well as 14 hours of classroom instruction per week.
"The classroom instruction will be based on the Corporal's Course," he said.
"The information covered is something that they can relate to, can be applied upon return to their unit, and is designed to benefit the individual,"
The classes will focus on leadership, pro/con, stress management, land navigation, financial management and the uniform code of military justice.
For now, the CCU will be located in the School of Infantry Quonset huts. The huts that are currently used for the Devil Pups program, Gillespie said.
After an 18-month $6 million renovation project beginning in October, the CCU will relocate to the Brig minimum annex building.
The CCU will have a maximum capacity of 40 awardees with 18 staff members.
"There will be around the clock, close supervision," Gillespie said.
"The CCU parallels boot camp. Everything that the Marine does will be closely supervised, regardless of how minute it is."
The awardees will not do anything unless they receive an instruction or make a valid request. There will be a plan of the day that will dictate everything to be accomplished.
"If you factor in the infinite times of making corrections, the structured environment, loosing your freedom, and intense PT; this will definitely make a Marine regret coming here and never want to return."
The Marines who will be working for the unit are required to have a high degree of initiative, personal integrity and temperament. They will be showing leadership by example, Gillespie added.
The Marines awarded correctional custody will be required to have their medical and dental records, all their uniform items, their full 782 gear, $35 and two combination locks. The $35 will be used for weekly haircuts and to replace health and comfort items during their time in CCU.
One of the differences from the Brig, is there will be no good conduct time awarded. Each Marine will be required to serve their full sentence. If a Marine refuses to train, though, he will be sent back to his unit and dealt with accordingly.
The only reason a Marine would leave CCU before serving his time, or refusing to train, is for emergency leave. The Marine will then be required to finish his time once he returns.
The opportunity for the CCU exists for all Marines stationed at bases west of the Mississippi.
The CCU program is being modeled after Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's CCU program, which has been in place since 1985. After traveling to Camp Lejuene and observing their program, Gillespie was tasked with implementing the CCU here.
"The program was here before, but the personnel working were not permanent. There were too many turnovers, so it quickly died out," he said.
Some of the personnel that will be working at this facility are coming from the MCB Quantico, Va. Brig. The rest will come from the brig here and all will be permanently assigned to the CCU.
They will be required to take brig pre-service, CCU pre-service and monthly training.
"The staff will continually be evaluated by the officer in charge and the staff noncommissioned officer in charge," Gillespie said.
"I think this program will help Marines who are going down the wrong road and turn them around before they are sentenced to confinement," he said.
CCU should aid non-end of active service attrition, one of the biggest challenges the Marine Corps faces. One of the primary goals of CCU is to retain an individual until his EAS and also provide the Marine an opportunity to be considered for reenlistment.