Nearly six years after its launch, the Spanish Ministry of the Interior acknowledged the failure of the “rehabilitation and deradicalization of jihadist prisoners” program, which began in 2016 with only 52 prisoners, requiring it to be suspended in the face of future changes and improvements.
The Spanish newspaper El País reported on the official confirmation by Interior Minister Fernando Grande Marlasca of the “negative consequences of the program for the reintegration of jihadist prisoners” in Spanish prisons detained on charges of “crimes related to jihadist terrorism.” “.
According to Secretary General of Penitentiaries Ángel Luis Ortiz, there are 98 convicted or pre-trial prisoners in Spanish prisons in connection with “crimes of jihadist terrorism”, most of whom are affiliated with the so-called “Islamic State” organization (ISIS).
Ortiz confirmed that of all the prisoners distributed across 25 Spanish prisons, only 4 are in the rehabilitation program, as they were the last to join in 2021, and 15 inmates completed the program in the year it was launched.
The program aims to eliminate extremism and violence from the perceptions of “prisoners of terrorism”, accepting them as a support tool not imposed by the administration of penitentiary institutions; Experts and psychiatrists were hired to encourage this category to “seek personal self-knowledge” before putting forward the idea of ”personal modification and change” to push them towards “empathy for real and potential victims” of terrorism, and to “inform them of the existence of cultural and religious pluralism so that they show respect and tolerance towards other religions.”
Spanish officials listed reasons for the failure of the program and heavily criticized it at launch, including a lack of staff and resources needed to run it; “There is a shortage of psychiatrists and a shortage of properly trained security personnel,” an official who works with Muslim prisoners told El País newspaper.
He said: “Many prisoners do not know that the program exists, and others who are aware of it do not want to join because they do not identify themselves as jihadist prisoners and most of these prisoners do not exhibit violent behavior in prisons. where there is no hierarchical organization behind them.”
The same spokesman added that “many of these people have been convicted of spreading jihadist ideology or indoctrination rather than committing acts of violence, and many of them are declaring their remorse in prison to reach an agreement with prosecutors that allows their sentences to be reduced.” . Thus, their profiles do not match the profile outlined by the 2016 program.”
In addition to those convicted on terrorism cases, 44 other prisoners, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry, are serving various terms of imprisonment in the same prisons, despite a conviction for ordinary crimes, on suspicion of “propagating radical Islam in the prisons in which they were held.”
In total, 210 prisoners are serving their sentences in Spanish prisons in “cases of terrorism” until May last year, which is less than at the beginning of 2020, when the total number of prisoners in this category was 265 people.