Setting Program Goals

  • Governments must set realistic goals for the rehabilitation programs for violent extremist offenders, recalling that even in non-terrorist cases, there are many incidents of recidivism, and we should expect likewise in these types of cases. Programs should have explicitly outlined short-term and long-term goals, ensuring that these goals are also consistent with one another.
  • The goals for rehabilitation should be set by those in charge of the rehabilitation program in consultation with a variety of actors, including psychologists.
  • Not every inmate should be a candidate for a rehabilitation program. There are inmates who are too extreme, and whose views are too hardened and rigid to be considered, though countries should make these decisions carefully and methodically.
  • Expectations should be set realistically for rehabilitating “lone wolves,” who have different personality types, motivating factors and personal needs than terrorists who are part of broader organizations. Their need for approval and close human connections is often far less, and as such, their violent extremist beliefs and behavior can be more difficult to reverse.
  • Countries should consider naming their rehabilitation and reintegration programs and its participants with monikers that carry less baggage, and make it easier for the inmates (and others) to begin to perceive themselves differently.