Captivated by fear?
Former prison warden Mark Hamm conducted extensive research in America’s high-security prisons to examine why and how prisoners radicalize. Dutch researcher Tinka Veldhuis argues that the risk of prisoner radicalization may be lower than is often assumed.
Early 2015, the risk of prisoner radicalization receives widespread public and political attention in Europe. Several perpetrators of violent extremist attacks, including one of the Kouachi brothers responsible for the violent assault on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, appear to have radicalized in prison. Also in the Netherlands, fears of jihadists recruiting prisoners for terrorism purposes have triggered an extensive debate on how terrorism prisoners should be incarcerated. To what extent is radicalization in prison a real and present danger, and how do governments seek to curtail the threat of violent extremism among inmates?
Former prison warden Mark Hamm conducted extensive research in America’s high-security prisons to examine why and how prisoners radicalize. Based on numerous interviews with inmates, prison chaplains, and prison staff, Hamm argues that prison gangs play a vital role in spreading violent extremist ideologies among the inmate population.
Tinka Veldhuis argues that the risk of prisoner radicalization may be lower than is often assumed, and that governments’ prison policies for terrorists are often driven by fear rather than by logical reasoning.
Mark S. Hamm is a former prison warden from Arizona and currently Professor of Criminology at Indiana State University. He has published widely in the areas of terrorism, hate crime, and prisoner subcultures and has authored several books, including The Spectacular Few – Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat (2013).
Tinka M. Veldhuis is an Assistant Professor of Criminology at Leiden University. She completed a PhD on prisoner radicalization and terrorism detention policy at the Department of Sociology of the University of Groningen. On 26 March 2015 she will defend her dissertation at the University of Groningen.