Let's face it: We don't know how to stop radicalization

Prisoners expressing radical views are to be deprived of privileges such as visitors, and will be isolated so they cannot influence others. That is, at least, according to the Danish Government’s counter-terrorism package, which was passed in February 2015.

The hope is that it will prevent future incidences like that of Omar El-Hussein, who shot and killed two people and wounded police officers in Copenhagen earlier this year. One of the victims had just participated in a debate about cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohamed. The other was a Jewish guard at a synagogue in Copenhagen.

However, this strategy to stop radicalisation in prisons may well have the opposite effect of what it intends to achieve, warns Linda Kjær Minke, associate professor of criminology at the University of Southern Denmark…

“Isolation confirms their view that society is unfair and that it exerts total power over them. Sitting alone with only themselves and their thoughts, whilst simultaneously feeling that they are being treated worse than other inmates, can reinforce the process of radicalisation. It is a strategy that sets the stage for further isolation,” says Minke.