Challenges of conducting field experiments in correctional settings: Boot camp prison study as an example

Doris Layton MacKenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: The challenges of conducting a field experiment in a correctional setting. Methods: This paper discusses the issues related to planning, design, and completion of a randomized control study of a correctional boot camp including the difficulties confronted and how these were or were not overcome. Results: At the beginning, correctional administrators were interested in and supportive of the study and this greatly facilitated our initial work. However, as described in this paper, during the course of the research obstacles and difficulties arose. Using the boot camp experiment as an example, we review the trials and tribulations of trying to do a field experiment in corrections. The importance of collecting quantitative and qualitative in order to understand the experiences of both the control and experimental groups is emphasized, as is the need to examine the theoretical mechanisms hypothesized to lead to changes in outcomes. Conclusion: Some of the challenges confronted in this randomized control trial are those facing anyone attempting to conduct a field experiment, others relate to the particular issues faced by those who are conducting experiments in correctional settings. The paper concludes with a discussion of the issues confronting researchers who are doing field experiments in corrections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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