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Inside French Prisons, A Struggle To Combat Radicalization - NPR

Many of the homegrown terrorists who've launched attacks in recent years in places like Paris and Brussels were radicalized in prison -- often while serving jail terms that had nothing to do with terrorism. In France, where a disproportionate number of prison inmates are of Muslim background, authorities are struggling to deal with the phenomenon.

In 2014, Fresnes became the first French prison to separate radicalized inmates from the general prison population -- they were put in an entirely separate wing, one person to each cell, and had different guards from the other prisoners.

After 2015, which began with the January attacks at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Kosher supermarket, and ended with the Bataclan attack in November, some other French prisons began separating inmates too. Several of the terrorists who killed nearly 150 people that year were common criminals who had become radicalized in prison.

In 2016, the French government put money into a rehabilitation program for radicals deemed not too far gone. The prisoners in these new anti-radicalization units received visits from psychologists and historians; they had the chance to attend some workshops or receive some training.

The radical units were controversial, especially after two guards at one prison were attacked in September of last year. In November, the French interior minister announced an end to the program.

by Bjinse on Wed Jun 28th, 2017 at 07:13:50 PM EST
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