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Criminal Sanctions Agency: Radicalisation festering in Finnish prisons

The Criminal Sanctions Agency says bitterness is a common factor among radicalised inmates.

Päijät-Hämeen käräjäoikeuteen oikeudenkäyntiin tulevien vankien odotushuone istuntosalien takana.
Image: Emilia Malin / Yle

The Criminal Sanctions Agency, Rise, reported that extremism is brewing in Finnish prisons and that it is not going away any time soon.

The project to identify violent extremism and radicalisation, flagged 112 individuals in Southern Finland between August 2016 and January 2018.

Of those identified, 76 were linked to radical Islam and 28 to the far-right. During January, 76 of the total designated as radicalised were in prison or under supervised probationary freedom.

”The observations were made largely in the Southern Finland region, however observations are likewise being made in prisons in other areas of Finland too,” the agency said.

Influenced by other inmates and prison gangs

Inmates will often become radicalised following the influence of another inmate or prison gang. According to Rise, a strong factor among those radicalised in Finnish prisons is bitterness.

Those looking to radicalise an individual will target a lonesome inmate and offer guidance and apparent friendship.

Rise said it is important to identify the risk of radicalisation as early as possible. Vulnerable inmates should be separated from those seeking to influence them.

If an inmate feels they have been treated fairly and can participate in meaningful activities during their prison sentence, this may also act as a deterrent to radicalisation, the agency noted.

Prison officials are advised to immediately intervene in violent behaviour with disciplinary action and the inmate should be re-assigned to different quarters. Finnish prisons currently have no rehabilitative programmes in place for extremist inmates, but the Rise report says these must be considered and developed in the future.

The Southern Finland crime surveillance project aimed to train staff and develop ways to identify radicalisation in prisons.

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