The Macdonald-Laurier Institute today released a Commentary, Prison Radicalization in Canada: More needs to be done, dealing with the increasingly important and contentious issue of how we handle terrorists in our penal system. Following on last October’s groundbreaking MLI publication, From Rehabilitation to Recruitment, Alex Wilner and Brian Lee Crowley target the continuing overall lack of preparedness to deal with convicted terrorists in Canadian prisons.
Wilner and Crowley note that they are not alone in their concern and that “…prison radicalization has topped the list of security concerns at Public Safely Canada, Correctional Service Canada (CSC), CSIS, and the RCMP. According to our sources, Islamist radicalization and terrorist recruitment in Canada’s prison system is viewed as a grave threat to national security.”
The authors focus on four areas that continue to plague Canadian security officials and which should be drawing the concerted attention of the Government of Canada.
The ‘big four’ concerns for Canadian prisons are:
(1) distinguishing between religious and radical behaviour
(2) dealing with opportunistic religious conversions
(3) hindering the promotion of extremist views, and
(4) getting the right religious leadership into the prison milieu.
Until these challenges are confronted the threat from prison radicalization will remain a real and present danger for Canadians. Crowley and Wilner maintain, however, that “…it shouldn’t be up to prison officials to distinguish between faith and violent extremism. Policy guidance must flow from the government…Once Canada has a government-mandated, conceptual framework for identifying radicalization, guidance can trickle down to the prison system and inform policies therein.”
In commenting on the Commentary, Brian Crowley said, “These are issues that MLI has now brought to the fore on two separate occasions. It is time for action on the part of decision-makers. Our prison personnel and the Canadian public deserve no less.”
For more information or to arrange interviews please email Robin Bourke or call (613) 482-8327.
Download the Commentary here.