Inmates’ attitude change during incarceration: A comparison of boot camp with traditional prison

Doris Layton Mackenzie, Claire Souryal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The attitudes of offenders serving time in six state shock incarceration programs were compared with those of demographically similar offenders serving time in prison. Program (or oppositional) attitudes and antisocial attitudes were assessed soon after offenders arrived at the boot camp program (or prison) and again three to six months later, depending on the length of the program. Despite large differences in the design and implementation of the boot camp programs, coupled with differences in the characteristics of participating inmates, the results were surprisingly consistent. During the boot camp program, inmates developed more positive attitudes about the program. In contrast, offenders serving time in prison did not develop more positive attitudes. Samples of both boot camp and prison inmates became less antisocial over time. These results were true of “enhanced” boot camp programs that emphasized treatment as well as programs that focused predominantly on military training, hard labor, and discipline. Exploratory analyses, however, show that the change in antisocial attitudes was greater for graduates of boot camp programs that were voluntary, devoted more time to rehabilitation, and had higher dismissal rates. Results do not support the hypothesis that boot camp programs will have a negative effect on inmates’ attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-354
Number of pages30
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Inmates’ attitude change during incarceration: A comparison of boot camp with traditional prison'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this