Finland's Criminal Sanctions Agency (Rise) says that there are dozens of radicalised inmates in Finnish prisons. Signs of violent extremist thought and radicalisation have been observed in 84 prisoners, the agency says in a report issued on Friday. Nearly half of these individuals have been released from incarceration, it says.
The report says that the phenomenon should be countered through better staff training, data gathering and more secure placement in correctional facilities. The paper is the result of a year-long study.
It says that there have been cases of assaults by prisoners of Muslim background in Finnish prisons that are suspected of having religious motivations.
Celebration of terror acts
There have also been cases where inmates have celebrated news of Islamist terror attacks.
"There has been rejoicing and victorious shouts to other prisoners in the cell block," says Juha Eriksson, security manager of Rise in southern Finland.
"For example in connection with the tragic stabbing incident in Turku, it was noticed that some individuals were happy about it and clapped," Eriksson tells Yle.
Rise has observed signs of various kinds of extremist thought among the prison population.
"There are significantly fewer observations of politically radicalised individuals on the far right and far left – fewer than 10 cases," says Eriksson.
In Finland the phenomenon is primarily connected to prisoners of foreign background, and radicalisation is usually tied to religiously-based violent extremism.
45 in prison, 39 freed
The report says that prisons are a fertile breeding ground for radical thinking, often under the influence of other prisoners or prison gangs.
It notes that 45 of the inmates suspected of having extremist views remain in prison while 39 have been freed or deported.
Eriksson says he is not particularly worried about the situation, and that he does not see these individuals as a particularly great threat – although he notes that many of those who have carried out terrorist acts in Europe have been radicalised in prison.
"Still quite a minor phenomenon"
"Many countries have more of these radicalised people in prisons. In Finland it is still quite a minor phenomenon," he says.
He says that quite many of those who are no longer in Finnish prisons have been deported, but cannot say specifically whether the others are being kept under surveillance.
"I believe that our partner authorities are monitoring them at some level," he says.
According to the report, secure placement in facilities may be the most effective way to control the problems caused by radicalism and violent extremism, as there is still no evidence that any rehabilitation methods are effective in countering them.