There can scarcely be a sillier idea than the government’s recent plan to house all extremist Muslims prisoners in one unit. This is a sure way to make them all more fanatical than ever before. It’s to be hoped that better counsel will prevail sooner rather than later
But before considering what should be done with them what is the point of locking them away anyway? Is it to prevent them carrying out acts of terrorism? Or is it for retribution reasons? Or is it to rehabilitate them?
As far as the generality of criminals is concerned, the lesson has already been learned over the years of over-crowded prisons and constant recidivism. At the end of the day, rehabilitation must be the only option to be treated seriously — or the main one, anyway. Rehabilitation may be expensive while it lasts, but it is far less expensive than nearly 70% of ex-prisoners committing crimes again and having to be prosecuted and returned to prison.
The sure way of rehabilitating anybody with wildly aberrant ideas is to immerse them individually in a group of normal people — albeit not sitting around in ‘therapeutic’ groups and talking about their problems but actually to fold them into a group carrying out meaningful daily activities, or even on a long adventurous holiday. There’s no need to persuade or force the individuals to change their ideology and become more normal.
Sooner or later — but no longer than a few weeks — the aberrant individuals will voluntarily adopt the culture of the group. This is called the ‘Stockholm Effect’ among other terms, but it’s only another instance of any individual’s strong need to be fully socially acceptable into a group. Neuroscientist researchers have recently identified a small part of the brain — which they term the ‘loneliness centre’ for want of a better term at present — which comes to life when a person feels lonely and drives him or her to find companionship.