America’s first domestic deradicalization program comes out of Minnesota. In 2016, the Terrorism Disengagement and Deradicalization Program was formed after a small group of Minnesota men were accused of planning to join ISIS. U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis ordered the men to undergo evaluations by Daniel Koehler, a widely-respected director of the German Institute on Radicalization and Deradicalization Studies (GIRDS). After the evaluations, the men were to partake in programming designed to unplug them from extremism in lieu of serving prison time.
The program is a cooperative initiative between the U.S. Probation Office for the District of Minnesota, GIRDS and the U.K.’s Prison and Probation Services — the latter of which offers strategies incorporated into the U.S. program. These strategies include:
- Evaluation of participants, including a forensic analysis which helps break down the radicalization conveyor belt along with what made the participants vulnerable to radicalization in the first place.
- Since push and pull factors that draw individuals to become radicalized differ from person to person, the program is designed to be tailored to specific needs.
- American’s first domestic deradicalization program uses every tool at its disposal, from psychological testing, religious mentoring, community reintegration and creating a supportive environment that (if possible) includes rekindling and strengthening family ties.
- Continuing as a case-by-case treatment, deradicalization programs can either supplement or be offered as an alternative for prison time.
- Branching out the program includes offering this model to prisons, where radicalization is a serious problem and where no alternative pathway presently exists to deter would-be radicals.