The growing emphasis on prison-based rehabilitation programs in governments’ efforts to counter violent extremism results from three factors: first, prisons may become ‘safe havens’ for terrorists carrying on their operations, including radicalizing new members; second, some imprisoned extremists will eventually be released and thus must be disengaged; third, prison settings can be a setting where positive change can occur, as violent extremists are cut off from their old networks and influences.
Successful in-prison rehabilitation does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. It begins with clearly defined objectives and metrics for success and failure. Chief among these decisions are whether to aim for de-radicalization, which focused on changing views or ideas, or disengagement, which is geared towards changing behavior. For programs to succeed, they should be nested in a safe, secure, well-run prison wherein human rights are upheld and new inmates are effectively and continuously assessed and classified. It must also be carefully considered whether to house them separately or collectively, after weighing the consequences of their communication–or the lack thereof. All relevant staff must be professionally trained, and cross-disciplinary experts should be closely coordinated with. These include psychologists, law enforcement, family, religious scholars, victims and/or their advocates, former violent extremists, and prominent community members.
During rehabilitation and reintegration, the specific assistance and support needed by inmates should be determined by assessments. Types of potential assistance include cognitive skill training, basic education courses, counseling, and vocational and employment assistance. Rehabilitation programs in custodial and non-custodial settings may include incentives to reward progress and to motivate others to participate in the program. Upon release, to reduce opportunities for recidivism and to ensure that that the individual is equipped to re-enter society, former inmates ought to receive assistance tailored to their needs and situation. For example, individuals who are on parole will be subjected will formal supervision and typically offered additional support services. Individuals who have completed their sentence may need to participate in aftercare programs and receive protective measures. Taking guidance from good practices makes it feasible to transfer and implement lessons learned across contexts and ensure success for those who come away reformed.
Good Practices Breakdown
This section will be used to highlight key initiatives being led by governments around the world which are advancing the GCTF’s lifecycle initiative