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Unique Challenges Linked With the Increase in Prisoners With Ties to Terrorism and Other Extremist Groups


It is a tough and challenging task for prison managers to safely house inmates connected to terrorist attacks and other extremist groups. This issue has grown more urgent in recent years with the emergence of international terrorism and extremism. In addition to outlining some of the particular difficulties that come with housing inmates with ties to extremism and terrorism, this essay will also offer a workable plan for prison officials to address these difficulties.


Since incarcerated radicals have previously taken part in high-profile terrorist incidents during the past five years, “prison radicalization” is a growing worry in many Western European and North American nations. Prison indoctrination, the mechanism by which people in custody or jailed “increasingly adopt violent views and goals, “1 is seen by many analysts and officials as a critical component in how the threat from terrorism will develop over the following ten years. (Clifford, 2018).

Concerns that correctional facilities were not sufficiently addressing the threat of violent radicalism behind bars increased following the attacks in Paris, Belgium, and Germany in December 2015, April 2016, and December 2016, carried out by former inmates who were reportedly radicalized in jail. (Clifford, 2018).

Long-standing research has linked jail extremism to the threat of domestic terrorism in the United States. The United States lacks focused and detailed terrorism prevention software in its prisons and jails, despite advancements in prison intelligence gathering, a collaboration between federal prison authorities and relevant federal, state, and local agencies, and improved sharing of information within law enforcement (Clifford, 2018).

The idea that prisons serve as a breeding ground for terrorists is supported by evidence of people becoming radicalized inside prisons (Willam J. Schultz, 2021). The majority of nations have not observed extensive radicalization in prisons. However, even in locations with no record of terrorist activity or extremist messages, many countries increasingly see it as a severe security risk.

According to Becker, learning criminal behavior is similar to learning other kinds of “job.” Becoming a criminal requires becoming accustomed to the standards of the “profession.” The extremist ideology establishes moral guidelines, cultural values and standards, and a binary opposition between followers and infidels. Educators and role models exert more and more control, and the radicalizing person is cut off from previous friends and relatives (Jytte Klausen, 2018).

Data on demographics revealed that there is no accurate demographic profile for those who join the jihad. At least one-third of American terrorists converted to Islam; they were not raised as Muslims. Most often, when they became politicized, they accepted Islam (Jytte Klausen, 2018).

Increase of ethno-nationalism

Another major issue is the ethnic diversity of those serving time for crimes connected to terrorism and some other extremist organizations (Jytte Klausen, 2018). For detainees with connections to terrorism and other extreme groups, increasing ethno-national diversity provides another significant difficulty since it can result in more splintered allegiances among prisoners and can give rise to factions centered on religious and cultural differences. This might exacerbate the problem of radicalization already present in jails and increase violence and disturbance as detainees struggle over opposing ideologies and views. Additionally, prisons could not be capable of accommodating the ethnic and spiritual requirements of inmates from different origins, which could result in violence.

Islamists are not the only ones who become radicalized in prison (D.B. Skillicorna*, 2015). British Republican Army and Askatasuna, Red Army Faction, and the National Liberation Front of Corsica are just a few of the organizations in The UK that have ties to this long-standing concern, which has led to the creation of a significant qualitative literature on incarcerated ethno-nationalist violent extremist offenders.

Prison officers could apply credible tactics in dealing with some of the most critical challenges.

Religious and Psychological Approaches

Participants in intervention programs who break institutional policies should be removed from the program. Tailored and targeted: Participants should also have access to a diverse group of therapists, comprising verified spiritual and community leaders, psychologists, previous extremists, and family members, in addition to other services given by BOP to convicts who qualify. Instead of defining a large group of extremists, it should concentrate on a single extremist (Clifford, 2018). Offenders should choose to enroll in the program voluntarily. Under the Religious Freedom Protection Act, statutory interventions for inmates deemed “extreme” and involving religious elements may raise legal issues.

Incentive-based: choices about health risk assessment and possibly early release should be made based on participation and successful program completion. Measurable: Prison officers will be able to identify which programs significantly affect the post-release trajectory of extremist offenders by linking recidivism studies to terrorist prevention initiatives (Clifford, 2018).

Religion and race were the two most prevalent interpretive frameworks officers used when thinking about terrorism. In this regard, officers showed a great deal of laxity, frequently labeling Islam as the religion of “brown people.” On this issue, the officers’ opinions were frequently nuanced and sometimes contradicting. For instance, many of our correctional officer’s respondents believed that religion, especially Islam, aids in regulation and reintegration. The majority agreed on the value of religious liberty, and several expressed outspoken worry about racism, mainly related to radicalization issues (Clifford, 2018).

Muslims, at the same time, caused many cops to become more concerned about radicalization and were consequently the subject of more inspection (Willam J. Schultz, 2021). Muslim clients believed that interactions with staff gave them a chance to express their religious convictions more clearly. One client claimed that the conversations with PRISM staff had given him a chance to express his understanding of jihad and clarify the distinction between belief systems and actions, with acts of religious war being covered by particular Islamic laws prohibiting Muslims from using violence against Australian citizens. This was crucial in proving one did not have radical beliefs (Cherneya, 2019).

The Proactive Integrated Support Model (PRISM) Intervention

Prisoners in the New South Wales prison facilities that have been convicted of terrorism or who have been determined to be at risk of radicalization because they have displayed extremist ideas and associations are the target population for PRISM. Unlike conventional correctional interventions with predetermined modules, PRISM does not work that way. It is a support program that takes care of the psychological, social, religious, and intellectual needs of criminals who have become radicalized. The main goal is to steer clients away from extremism (facilitating disengagement) and aid them in leaving jail. Despite how long they had participated in the intervention or had access to it, all prisoners and parolees were questioned about the advantages they had received from it. These advantages included teaching offenders how to manage the stress, worry, and frustration that often come with being imprisoned, especially in a maximum security setting (Cherney, 2019)

For instance, this has to do with assisting criminals in coping with disappointments (and frustrations) brought on by parole refusal or lowering security levels to enable day and work release. One client, for instance, claimed that PRISM employees had assisted in eliciting from him the reasons behind his displeasure at being unable to exit maximum protection and would quietly offer other methods of evaluating such instances, stating (Cherneya, 2019).

Another client, a parolee, remembered how the PRISM staff had given him coping mechanisms and anxiety management techniques that had helped him manage his jail time. This client claimed that the PRISM therapist had advised him to make a map of the various problems he was dealing with that were causing him stress and worry and had assisted him in identifying other coping mechanisms. According to the interviewee, this practice was valuable and gave him skills he could put to use when he was released back into society (Cherney, 2019)

Some clients claimed that participating in PRISM helped them reflect on the circumstances surrounding their arrest and incarceration and helped them understand their crimes. Given the considerable influence that social networks have on a person’s route to radicalization, the conclusions drawn about the impact of friends and family should be viewed as a crucial conditional component in causing disengagement.

One of the earliest initiatives by an Australian correctional body to assist convicted terrorists and criminals at risk of extremism in a detention setting is the PRISM program. While initiatives to reintegrate convicted terrorists existed at the time in other nations, they were primarily an unproven approach in the Australian setting. PRISM clients’ backgrounds are examined, and some important traits do show up. The history of customers reveals early encounters that could be risk factors for radicalization, such as previous engagement with the criminal justice system and contact with violence (Belton, 2019).

Establishment of incentive-based initiatives aimed at lowering the rate of recidivists: Programs may include drug and alcohol misuse counselling, law-abiding behavior patterns education sessions, and rehabilitation activities. This might give prisoners the knowledge and assistance they need to reintegrate into society once they are released.

Implementation Awareness Programs

Create and implement awareness campaigns with the goal of informing prison officials and other key players about the dangers posed by violent extremist offenders and the many approaches that may be used to handle them effectively (D.B. Skillicorna*, 2015).

Alerts, complaints, incidents, assessed needs, and program participation are some of the attribute categories considered for custody analysis like psychological health therapy, chaplaincy or education. According to D.B. Skillicorna* (2015), chaplaincy-enrolled records, for instance, show whether or not a convicted person had joined in a chaplaincy training the year before.


In conclusion, the growing numbers of people with ties to terrorist organizations and other extreme groups provide considerable issues for prisons. These people provide special difficulties that are distinct from the typical security and administration issues faced by the typical jail. It is critical to establish and put into action a credible plan that can handle the threats posed by this population while also ensuring the safety and security of other prisoners and prison workers. This strategy should include evaluations of the persons, methods for managing and overseeing them, and measures to lessen their influence within the jail population. This strategy, which is backed by data and research, has the potential to enhance inmate welfare, lessen the risk of terrorism, and preserve public safety.


Belton, A. C. (2019, 03 08). Evaluating Case-Managed Approaches to Counter Radicalization and Violent Extremism: An Example of the Proactive Integrated Support Model (PRISM). Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 625-645. doi:

Cherneya, A. (2019, 12 28). Journal for Deradicalization. Supporting disengagement and reintegration: qualitative: qualitative outcomes from a custody based counter radicalisation intervention, 11. Retrieved 10 12, 2018, from https:/

Clifford, B. (2018). Radicalization in Custody. Towards Data-Driven Terrorism Prevention in, 2. Retrieved from 20folder%20(3)/2049485_Prisons_Policy_Paper.pdf

D.B. Skillicorna*, C. L. (2015). Structural differences of violent extremist offenders in correctional settings. Global Crime, 238-258. doi:

Jytte Klausen, R. L. (2018, 10 01). Studies in Conflict & Terrorism. Radicalization Trajectories: An Evidence-Based Computational Approach to Dynamic Risk Assessment of “Homegrown” Jihadists, 588-615. doi:

Willam J. Schultz, S. M. (2021, Nov 6). The Floating Signifier of Radicalization. Correlational Officers’ Perceptions of Prison Radicalization, 48, 828 – 845. doi:10.1177/0093854820969749


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