Risks, radicalisation and rehabilitation: Imprisonment of incarcerated terrorists

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2 Citations (Scopus)


The terrorist attacks of November 2019 and February 2020 in London, perpetrated by individuals who had previously been incarcerated on terrorism charges, reinforces the complexity of the challenges that prisons around the world manifest in relation to terrorist offenders. Frequently articulated through descriptions of prisons as ‘hotbeds for radicalisation’, concerns are undoubtedly reinforced by the tales of notorious terrorists such as Ayman al-Zawahiri. If prisons do pose a risk of radicalising individuals, or of further radicalising violent extremist offenders, informed policy decisions relating to the management of incarcerated terrorists are essential. Focusing on the Australian context, this paper analyses three prisoner management methods currently implemented around the world. In recognising the complexity of incarcerating terrorist offenders, benefits and challenges relating to the concentration, dispersal and the seldom-used tier method are identified and discussed. The paper examines the risks and management of radicalised prisoners post-release. Finally, an Australian initiative is introduced, which legislates supervision or detention of those proven to be an unacceptable risk of committing a serious terrorism offence, as a potential way to mitigate those risks. The paper concludes that if concentration is to be utilised, greater emphasis must be placed on rehabilitation and monitoring upon release.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-208
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism
Issue number3
Early online date09 Sep 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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