International Centre for Counter-Terrorism- 2012
As part of the effort to counter violent extremism, there is an increasing focus on prisons, for several reasons. First, left unchecked, prisons provide a ‘safe haven’ where terrorists network compare and exchange tactics, recruit and radicalise new members, and even direct deadly operations outside the prison. Denying incarcerated terrorists the opportunity to influence non-terrorist inmates is especially important. Second, most imprisoned or detained extremists will eventually be released. In order to reduce the likelihood that these individuals will return to terrorism after release, it is essential to find ways to help them disengage from violent activities. In recognition of the fact that prisons can be terrorism incubators or be institutions for reform, a number of governments have established prison-based rehabilitation programmes. These programmes are designed to rehabilitate both the terrorist foot soldiers and violent extremists, and reintegrate them back into society with a reduced risk of recidivism. While this is a promising development, it is critical that the countries and national officials engaged in these efforts share information about their efforts with the world community. While a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to work, knowing what other countries have tried, and what has succeeded or failed, can offer valuable lessons for governments as they work to build or improve their own programmes. Although programmes must be tailored to the local conditions and cultures, there are a series of good practices that countries can consider, that can potentially serve as the foundation for their policies and programmes.