Consider appropriate factors when determining whether to segregate or disperse inmates with special attention given to terrorist ideologues and leaders and those susceptible to their violent extremist messages.
Correctional practitioners need to determine the best approach to handling certain types of offenders, including violent extremists, based on specific factors within the country. There is no universal approach to confinement, co-location, or dispersal of inmates, so officials need to take into consideration factors such as:
- Size of population that would be segregated or dispersed
- Prison infrastructure
- Capacity, size and skills level of staff
- Financial resources
- Legal framework and authorities
- Cultural, political and social context
- The threat that an individual presents for further radicalization
Violent extremist ideologues and leaders, for example, could be more likely to radicalize others than mere followers and foot soldiers, while the latter may be more incited and ready to use violence. It is essential that whichever strategy is adopted that it remains dynamic and responsive to the behavior of the individual offender.
Determine and tailor risk assessments in order to ascertain risks of prison inmates’ susceptibility to terrorist ideology.
A violent extremist risk assessment protocol has the dual utility of determining the most effective and appropriate intervention and reintegration strategies for the offender convicted for terrorism offences as well as better informing the security and management decision making processes within the prison and the community. It should be an integral part of the intake and classification processes.
In developing objective risk assessment tools and protocols, it is vitally important that officials identify and clearly define the types of risks they seek to assess. For example, prison staff should determine if they want to evaluate the inmate on the risk s/he will pose within the prison or if they seek to review the risk s/he poses to the outside community, or both. They should likewise assess what are the likely risks to the inmates, including the potential for radicalization. In all cases, these tools should be evidence-based and culturally appropriate, rather than based on personal biases or speculative considerations.
In addition to articulating the specific risk(s) being assessed, officials should develop screening tools that include risk indicators that are tailored to specific prison populations, including juveniles and female inmates. There is no one size fits all approach to determining risks.
There is no hundred percent risk predictability. Therefore, prison leadership should be prepared to communicate with the media and the public opinion to ensure public understanding and support for the decisions reached by the prison service.
Implement sound and transparent intake screening and classification procedures continuously to identify those susceptible to violent extremist ideology.
The classification system should start at initial intake and be dynamically applied throughout the entire time that an individual is incarcerated and continue through post-release control in order to monitor behavioral changes. As noted in the Rome Memorandum, it is important to get as much information about an inmate’s background, criminal history, mental health, and personality traits in order to make sound classification decisions. Some of this information should be gathered from the investigating authority that developed the underlying charges against the prisoners or other relevant agencies, as well as informed by internal intelligence. Typically, classification identifies the appropriate level of custody for the inmate, determines appropriate housing, and decides the inmate’s eligibility to participate in various available programs. Prison officials must flexibly adapt such classifications between different types of facilities, but such systems should be transparent and consistent with the rule of law, and be objective and methodologically valid, based on established laws, regulations and procedures.
It is also important to develop an effective database to record information and account for all prisoners in the prison system, from the time the prisoner first enters the prison facility, until the expiration of their sentence in the community. A database that includes an alert or identification of those convicted under terrorism legislation allows prison officers to instantly identify a prisoner’s status,. Knowing as much as possible about the prisoner's co-offenders, modus operandi, personal background, criminal history, significant contacts, and ideology allows for more accurate registration and appropriate placement and classification processes. Access to quality information from the law enforcement agencies and courts familiar with the cases is important, as it promotes better informed registration and classification processes by the prison administration.
Adequate screening and classification is not the end of the process. As the Rome Memorandum points out, “re-administering5 risk assessment protocols at regular intervals is important to inform risk assessment, management decisions, and targeted interventions. The results of these periodic assessments may also assist prison officials in estimating the impact of any intervention strategies and detecting changes in prisoner attitudes.6 By properly and continuously assessing and classifying, and if necessary re-classifying inmates, officials will have up-to-date information and potential warning signs regarding individuals who may be susceptible to radicalization to violence while in prison. The results of the screening can then be integrated into a dynamic and individualized management needs assessment and intervention plan for each inmate. The role of particular inmate groups within the facility should be monitored and analyzed. Furthermore, a formal process to review an inmate’s classification should be established to take into account adjustment to incarceration, behavior, participation in programs and changes in the inmate’s circumstances. These reviews should take place on a pre-determined schedule and any time there is a change in the inmate’s legal status.
5. See also Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Detention and Reintegration Working Group Workshop Summary on Capacity Building and Training for the Appropriate Management of Violent Extremist Offenders reconfirming the importance of structurally re-administered risk assessments as well as sufficient investments in staff training to ensure that prison staff members are capable of identifying and managing violent extremist offenders and radicalization in prison. www.thegctf.org.
6. Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders, www.thegctf.org