C. The Role of Different Actors in Prisons

Good Practice Number 7

Rehabilitation programs could incorporate a broad range of cross-disciplinary experts, with close coordination among the relevant departments and personnel involved.

With the wide range of motivations and factors that may have pushed individuals towards violent extremism, prison rehabilitation is a complex undertaking, one that ideally includes a range of different types of experts incorporated into the programs. As discussed at greater length below, psychologists, social workers, religious scholars, aftercare experts, and even family members and communities may all have a role to play in a successful rehabilitation program. Other personnel, such as correctional officers and law enforcement agents also may be interacting with the inmates during this sensitive time period. It is important that all of these efforts be carefully planned, structured, and coordinated to maximize the effectiveness of the program, and ensure that all of those involved with the inmates are imparting consistent messages to the inmates.

Good Practice Number 8

Psychologists can play a key role in the rehabilitation process and could be fully integrated into these programs.

Psychologists can help identify factors in the social context and psychological make-up that made the individual vulnerable to militant ideology and the motivational factors that contributed to his or her decision to engage in terrorist activity. This information helps to inform the classification process and to design an individualised rehabilitation plan for a prisoner. Psychologists can be specially trained to do this type of work.


Good Practice Number 9

As the personnel in most frequent contact with the inmates, it is important that prison officers understand and are carefully attuned to the rehabilitation process, even if they are not directly responsible for its delivery.

It is particularly important that prison officials and supervising officers avoid actions that undermine the rehabilitation process. Officers could receive the necessary training on professional conduct, prisoner rights, inmate rules and responsibilities, and how to supervise prisoners by employing firm, fair and consistent techniques. It would be helpful for prison staff to have a thorough understanding of and appreciate the important role they play to support the rehabilitation process.


Good Practice Number 10

States could consider integrating the appropriate scholars into the rehabilitation process.

Scholars, including religious experts, can play an important role in the rehabilitation process. In the case of allegedly religiously inspired terrorism, a number of the incarcerated violent extremists who cite religion for their actions have a shallow knowledge of the religion by which they were supposedly inspired. Properly trained scholars could be encouraged to engage in extensive dialogue with the inmates and potentially raise doubts about their views on the acceptability of the use of violence. A religious expert who comes from the same tribal, ethnic, and linguistic groups of the terrorists is often more effective than those from different segments of the community. However, since these scholars might become targets for terrorists, States should consider taking steps to ensure their safety throughout this process.


Good Practice Number 11

Law enforcement officers who are interviewing inmates during the rehabilitation process could receive specialized training and coordinate these activities closely with the rehabilitation professionals.

Law enforcement officials may need to interview selected inmates on various counter-terrorism related matters, perhaps even while the inmate is still completing the rehabilitation process. As with the prison officers, law enforcement officials may (consistent with investigative needs) want to avoid inadvertently interfering with the rehabilitation progress inmates are making. Law enforcement officers could receive training that enables them to navigate this delicate area successfully. Rehabilitation practitioners and those who collect information from inmates could regularly coordinate their activities at both the managerial and individual levels and de-conflict the interactive techniques that may be used in parallel within a prison. The scheduling of interviews and programming activities, for example, could be carefully considered, weighing both the operational needs and the possibility of engendering confusion for the prisoners.


Good Practice Number 12

Victims and victims’ advocates can be powerful voices and States could consider including them in rehabilitation programs, where appropriate.

The victims of terrorist violence can be powerful voices within rehabilitation programs. If approached correctly, there may be the potential for victim-perpetrator contact to contribute to the physical and psychological well-being of the victims. It also might be beneficial for the perpetrators. Hearing first-hand how their violence tragically impacts ordinary citizens might evoke a mind-shift in violent extremist inmates. Moreover, dialogue between inmates and victims and their advocates may reduce psychological tension and may contribute to the inmate‟s successful rehabilitation. It is important to carefully consider when, how, and which victims are introduced, so that inmates are most receptive to their messages and perhaps more importantly so that potential negative side-effects for the victims are minimized – since re-victimization is a real and tragic phenomenon.

Good Practice Number 13

Former violent extremists can be influential with those going through the rehabilitation process and could be included where possible and appropriate.

Reformed extremists, particularly those who have been through the rehabilitation process themselves, may be influential with inmates participating in these programs. The testimonials of former terrorists can be dramatic evidence of the benefits of change. These former violent extremists can be carefully vetted and selected. The writings of former operatives and supporters who have turned away from terrorism are also a powerful testament to how misguided its ideology is, and could be incorporated into the rehabilitation dialogue. However, since these former extremists might become targets for violent retaliation, States could consider taking steps to ensure their safety throughout this process.

Good Practice Number 14

Charismatic members of the community can also help inspire change and could be included in rehabilitation programs where possible and appropriate.

Celebrities and other influential personalities from the community can also help inspire change among prisoners. The motivational themes and public service messages they deliver can be quite captivating and effective. Where possible and appropriate, they can be integrated into the rehabilitation programs. However, since these community members might then become targets for violent retaliation, States could consider taking steps to ensure their safety throughout this process.