Counter terrorism practitioners in Europe and North America have long considered radicalisation within prison systems and the release of incarcerated terrorist offenders as major challenges. The problem has worsened during the past half-decade, as the number of extremist offenders in Western prison systems has metastasised, and previously incarcerated extremists were responsible for attacks that rank amongst Europe’s deadliest. Significant barriers remain to developing effective radicalisation prevention and disengagement programmes in prisons, jails and parole systems, as well as inculcating prison authorities within the counter terrorism infrastructure. Nonetheless, some innovative programmatic responses, albeit on a small scale, are currently in effect. This paper reviews efforts in the European Union and the United States of America to combat extremism in prison and parole systems, highlighting the guidelines, methods and practices which have proven effective or ineffective in certain circumstances.
Author: Lorenzo Vidino and Bennett Clifford
This paper was presented at the 3rd conference of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) Advisory Network on terrorism and propaganda, 9-10 April 2019, at Europol Headquarters, The Hague. The views expressed are the authors’ own and do not necessarily represent those of Europol.