>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    

The Global Challenge of Countering Violent Extremism in Prisons
By Robert Winters, JD, Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Purdue Global University
Published: 11/05/2018

Prisoner g
If there is one issue that today knows no international borders in the corrections world, it is violent extremism. The growth of extremism since the late 1990s has created a dual-faceted challenge: How best to rehabilitate offenders who were sentenced for criminal extremist acts while shielding inmates with no prior history of extremism from indoctrination.

The risks of violent extremism “infecting” offenders is a known problem with a sad history. Camp Bucca, the huge detention facility operated by the U.S. during the Iraq war, is today widely regarded as a primary breeding ground for the Islamic State. At least nine members of the group’s top command served time at Bucca, according to the Soufan Group, which analyzes terrorism, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, Haji Bakr, and Abu Qasim. One of the facility’s former commanders reported in an interview with Mother Jones that “There was a huge amount of collective pressure exerted on detainees to become more radical in their beliefs.” A military report on Bucca observed that “Islamic extremists [in the facility]…will maim or kill fellow detainees for behavior they consider against Islam.”

This is not a phenomenon that emerged during the War on Terror, however. U.S. prisons had similar problems with white supremacists in the 1970s, as did the U.K. with Irish Republican Army members. Those instances were fairly limited in scope in terms of both geography and the size of the radical organizations involved. Violent Islamic extremism, however, has both near-global reach and the potential for millions of converts, making it a truly global challenge.

Programs for rehabilitating violent extremist offenders (VEOs) are similar to other specialized treatment programs, such as those for sex offenders. Tailoring the content to provide maximum relevance to the inmate is crucial. However, there are two additional challenges where violent extremism is concerned. First, there remain significant limits on understanding the motivations behind and factors of such behavior, making appropriate tailoring difficult. Second, a program that is inappropriately intensive for the individual in question can actually develop or reinforce an extremist identity in someone who was not strongly committed, or reverse progress that a formerly committed person has already made toward disengagement, whereas a program that is not sufficiently intensive is unlikely to produce any significant results in someone who is committed.

“Level of commitment” is not a concept normally associated with criminal offenders, who are instead judged on length of criminal history and severity and number of offenses. There is also no true ideological component to traditional crime. The traditional offender may be socially maladjusted or hail from a troubled background and may have turned to crime as the “easy” or even pleasurable option, or been influenced by others. It is unlikely that he or she “believes” in a life of crime, however. The only close parallel is gang affiliation, which certainly drives loyalty and to some extent dictates what is “appropriate” behavior, and indeed programs for disengaging gang members may well help point the way toward effective methods for rehabilitating VEOs.

The other aspect of the challenge, protecting non-VEO inmates from radicalization through contact with VEOs, has led to difficult decisions regarding whether or not to allow VEOs into the general population of a facility. France, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia have all taken the route of segregation to varying degrees. Australia upgraded a facility to what is commonly called a Supermax to house radicalized prisoners, and the U.K. similarly employs three separate facilities. France and the Netherlands hold VEOs in separate wings, and in fact the Netherlands has been criticized for the near-solitary-confinement conditions in which it holds such inmates.

The main argument against such isolation is that VEOs lose the normalizing influences of the non-extremist population in the facility, and that concentrating VEOs together tends to reinforce their existing tendencies. This is what occurred at Camp Bucca, although the fact that Bucca had no rehabilitation or deradicalization programs represents a significant factor in this outcome.

An important consideration in evaluating the threat level posed by a VEO is the rank that individual had within his (or her, though most VEOs are male) organization and the degree of charisma (for lack of a better term) that he or she possesses. Rank-and-file members of an extremist organization may be capable of parroting the same arguments that were used to indoctrinate them, but often they will be far less effective at converting non-extremist fellow inmates. A VEO who held a leadership position or has the ability to present convincing arguments represents a far greater threat of ideological proliferation.

In addition, motives among VEOs vary significantly. Certainly many are “true believers,” but many more—especially lower-level functionaries who are assigned to carry out the very sorts of acts that often lead to incarceration—may be much less ideological in their outlook. Extremist organizations often prey on the poor and disadvantaged for the same reasons that the Bloods and the Crips do not recruit in middle-class suburban neighborhoods. Consequently, many VEOs may have joined their organizations for reasons that have less to do with religion or ideology and more to do with monetary gain, thrills, or simply the opportunity to engage in violence.

Because there is such a wide range of motivations and commitment levels among VEOs, it is crucial for correctional staff to understand proper screening. The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons emphasizes that screening must establish the VEO’s role or rank within their organization, their “degree of charismatic leadership or appeal,” the likelihood of creating or maintaining an operational command structure in the facility, and their ability to plot and direct criminal activities while in prison. The European Organization of Prison and Correctional Services has similarly worked to develop training materials and screening tools for correctional staff to identify “vulnerable” and “radicalized” inmates.

Because of the ideological nature of violent extremism and the wide range of potential motivations found among those who participate in it, both assessing a specific VEO’s risk level and administering an effective disengagement program are far more difficult than dealing with traditional offenders. This is a challenge that shows no signs of abating in the foreseeable future, however, and will thus demand our best efforts.

Corrections.com author, Robert Winters, holds a Juris Doctorate degree and is a Professor with Purdue University Global’s Dept. of Criminal Justice. He is also a member of the National Criminal Justice Association and serves as a Western Regional Representative, a member of the National Advisory Board and their National Elections Committee.


  1. msofficesetuporg on 07/11/2019:

    mcafee.com/activate | office.com/setup | norton.com/setup

  2. jeanray on 06/29/2019:

    hey thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. Best Regards - office.com/setup

  3. jeanray on 06/29/2019:

    I'm really impressed about the info you provide in your articles. I must say am highly overwhelmed by your whole story. Itís not easy to get such quality information online nowadays. I look forward to staying here for a long time. Best Regards - https://www.officecommsetup.com

  4. greenday999 on 06/23/2019:

    Thank you so much for the post! Real Estate Agent Vallejo

  5. greenday999 on 06/22/2019:

    Great article, thanks so much for the read. Mountain View Mulch Mountain View Massage Best Massage In Fresno Driving School Tampa Tampa Massage Windshield Repair Fresno Driving School San Diego Drivers Training Fresno Vallejo Towing Massage Benicia

  6. justin obama on 06/20/2019:

    Awesome article with the incredible idea!Thank you for such an important article. I truly acknowledge this awesome data. i suggest you to try anova coupon, beachwaver promo code, bing ads coupon, Hanover coupons, banggood sitewide coupon, amazon kindle promo code, Viscosoft coupon code, target promo code, chi coupon, anker discount code, hayward pool heater coupons, TechSmith Promo code, fitbit versa coupon, flashforge coupon code relapse records promo code 2019 in to save money.

  7. Maria C on 06/12/2019:

    I found this content useful. tree removal near me

  8. NormyNorm on 06/06/2019:

    very educational, professional and worthy of appreciation. I think you for writing this up and sharing because it inspired me to do some writing of my own while I was waiting for kelowna appliance repair

  9. Dean on 05/22/2019:

    It is a surgerwy and you are administered anaesthetics in organization to frequent to sleep. There are also other dangers tangled with this type of surgery. Penis pumps and penis exercises are notorious representing Norway Movies on Netflix their being unsafe as they are not tested and they possess resulted in some crucial cases in the past.

  10. Dean on 05/22/2019:

    This is a mistrust to which there is not a apart answer. Namely, it all depends on the penis enlargement selection that you choose. In requital for instance, Luther Season 5 cast cast no one can articulate that penis enlargement surgery is risk-free.

  11. Brielle on 05/21/2019:

    I hope that extremism should be condemned all over the world. https://scottkeeverseo.com/

  12. Dylan Eales on 05/14/2019:

    Thanks for this informative content. It’s really good. Actually, I want to share some thoughts and reviews about an Australian assignment help company and the brand name is SAMPLE ASSIGNMENT. Here, I am working as an Academic Expert. To look at our online academic assistants who provide reference assignment including Accounting, Management, Finance, IT, Economics, Computer Science, Nursing, Marketing; all Academic subjects to University Students all over the Australia or even worldwide, Here is a big online assignment help providers who help students to get HD grades according to assessment guidelines and instructions. , you can avail of our convenient online assignment help and samples available on our website for free. You can download it if you want. Are you ready to get 100 out of 100 in your university assessment? We assign the best writer according to the subject for your academic problems and provide support in assignment writing services. Our Customer Care Executives are available 24*7 hours to assist you in the best possible manner. Phone calls and emails are the best methods used by assignment provider.

  13. Jacksonmc on 05/03/2019:

    Michael Coleman Actor IMDB for a great actor from Vancouver BC Michael Coleman Actor Michael Coleman Vancouver Michael Coleman Actor Michael Coleman Michael Coleman Actor Michael Coleman Actor

  14. Jacksonmc on 05/03/2019:

    personal injury attorney Mobile AL 3D Printing has come a long way for. This is super intersting. Dog Walking Service Vancouver if you're looking for a great dog waker in Vancouver or Toronto pool liner repair If you need pool liner repair in Ajax or anywhere in the Durham Region Bad credit car loan if you're looking for a bad credit car loan these are your guys for sure! Acting school If you or anyone in Vancouver are looking for acting classes in Vancouver look these guys up. tow truck youngstown If you need a towing service in Youngstown Ohio, please take a look at Ytown Towing. tree service Not surprised the are the leading tree service in Erie PA. towing Richmond another great towing company although they are in Richmond BC Canada. mobile mechanic Victoria You never know when you're gonna need a mobile mechanic to come to your car! junk hauling in case you have any rubbish you need removed. moving company if you need a great moving company in Erie Pa or check out movers youngstown if youre in Youngstown Ohio. Dont forget to check out water softener if you want some clean and healthy water and you live in Winnipeg Manitoba. dog trainers if you need your doggy trained. Also great contractors in Erie PA at https://eriepacontractors.com/">general contractor

  15. JackSock on 03/27/2019:

    I really hope that we can improve the culture our prison system enough to avoid such a harmful trend - O'Fallon MO tree removal

  16. JacobB on 03/21/2019:

    Such a sad issue. I really hope that they are able to route this out. Very ironic that the institutions we use to deter crime are creating more crime. Aurora stump grinder

  17. SammyB on 03/21/2019:

    If we truly want to prevent extremist ideas from spreading in prisons we need to adopt of philosophy of rehabilitation rather than punishment with regards to incarceration. tree removal Little Rock

  18. JackSock on 03/15/2019:

    I have heard very sad news of such extremism in prisons near me. We need to do our best to educate and route this out. https://www.ofallontreeservice.com/

  19. Chris889 on 01/23/2019:

    This is in fact very saddening. I hope this will be given attention as this is becoming worse. https://www.concretecontractorsgreenville.com

  20. xunuja on 12/12/2018:

    THANK YOU SO much for sharing the post. clash of magic Wanting more from you. clash royale 8 ball pool

  21. mikas on 12/11/2018:

    The content of your article page is great, I found the content pretty good and useful to me, thank you for sharing. candy crush soda

Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   


Forgot password?

correctsource logo

Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2019 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015