Parallel Networks Co-Founders Mitchell Silber & Jessie Morton Outline Strategies for Rehabilitating Terrorists in U.S. Prisons
(New York, NY) – The United States is facing a pending, pressing counterterrorism challenge as dozens of individuals with terrorism-related convictions are set to be released from prison, Parallel Networks Co-Founders Mitch Silber and Jesse Morton found in their newly issued report, “When Terrorists Come Home: The Need for Rehabilitating and Reintegrating America’s Convicted Jihadists,” sponsored by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP).
“Since 9/11, the United States has prosecuted more than 400 jihadi terrorists,” said Silber and Morton. “For the overwhelming majority of them, the time for imprisonment is coming to an end and their chance to re-enter society has arrived. The decisions we make now will impact the next stage of counterterrorism strategy, especially in reducing terrorist recidivism. The importance of rehabilitation and reintegration in addressing this pressing national security threat cannot be understated.”
In fact, over the next five years, nearly a quarter of the United States’ terror convicts will complete their terms of imprisonment. While it is possible that these individuals will commit offenses at a lower rate than other federal prisoners, it is still likely their recidivism rate will not be zero. Further complicating the situation, the United States has neither established a formal rehabilitation and re-entry program for convicted terrorists nor developed infrastructure to support individuals upon their release.
Utilizing their respective personal experiences as a former counterterrorism official for the New York Police Department (NYPD) who led the effort to thwart terrorist aims and a former jihadi imprisoned for terrorism-related charges, Silber and Morton provide concrete policy solutions and goals toward ameliorating this national security threat:
- The United States Government should create and implement a program that fosters successful rehabilitation and reentry for violent extremist offenders.
- U.S. Government agencies, such as the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System, should pilot a voluntary, in-prison/out-of-prison rehabilitation and reintegration program tailored for former violent extremist offenders well in advance of their release dates to reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
- Pre-existing infrastructure, policy and practice should be utilized to develop similar in-prison initiatives tailored to serve the unique needs of violent extremist offenders.
- There is an important role for community organizations to play complementing and supporting the work of governmental entities.
To explore the Parallel Networks report, “When Terrorists Come Home: The Need for Rehabilitating and Reintegrating America’s Convicted Jihadists,” please click here.