What is it about?

This paper measures the change in radicalization and extremism among a large (N=802) sample of incarcerated persons as they move from being incarcerated to the period of time after they have been released from prison.

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Why is it important?

There is considerable speculation about the impact of imprisonment on attitudes and behavior consistent with a terrorist orientation. That said, there is very little research about such processes. We use interviews and official records of re-offending to examine the nexus between release from prison custody and the adoption of such extremist values or engaging in extremist activities.


This work melds research on incarcerated persons with the study of extremism and activism. We find little evidence that release from prison promotes or diminishes extremist beliefs or activism.

Scott Decker
Arizona State University

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This page is a summary of: The imprisonment-extremism nexus: Continuity and change in activism and radicalism intentions in a longitudinal study of prisoner reentry, PLoS ONE, November 2020, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0242910.
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