AirTalk for June 17, 2013

Does prison overcrowding lead to prisoner radicalization?

In “The Spectacular Few: Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat,” criminology professor and former prison warden Mark S. Hamm examines why prisoners can be radicalized.

How have terrorist attacks been carried out by men behind bars? In “The Spectacular Few: Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat,” criminology professor and former prison warden Mark S. Hamm examines why prisoners can be radicalized.

Hamm’s book includes the story of Kevin James who was indicted for plotting to attack American military facilities. James began as a gang member on the street in South Central Los Angeles. While in prison, he joined the Nation of Islam, but he eventually founded an extremist group known as the Assembly of Authentic Islam (JIS). While in prison, he recruited several other inmates and planned an attack on a U.S. Army recruiting office four years after the September 11 attacks.

Although cases like Kevin James are rare, why are prisoners susceptible to being part of extremist groups? What is the current state of prison gangs? Does prison overcrowding mean less supervision and more potential for radicalization? What can be done to stop the “evolving terrorist threat”?

Guest:
Mark Hamm, author of “The Spectacular Few: Prisoner Radicalization and the Evolving Terrorist Threat”; professor of Criminology at Indiana State University and a senior research fellow at the Terrorism Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Hamm is also a former prison warden from Arizona


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