What could possibly go wrong? Celebrate diversity! Why, all sorts of steps were taken while they were in prison to disabuse them of their jihadist convictions and ensure that they would become loyal, stable, productive members of Belgian society, right? Actually, nothing of that kind was done, at least nothing effective, for to have attempted anything of that kind would have been “Islamophobic.”
This year and next, a total of 60 prisoners convicted of terrorism and others who are known to have become radicalized are due to be released from prison, according to figures given by federal justice minister Koen Geens (CD&V).
There will be 33 releases this year, and 27 before the end of 2021, Geens said. Two of the prisoners will be resident in Brussels, 26 in Flanders and 32 in Wallonia.
Thomas Renard of the independent think-tank, the Egmont Institute, looked at the cases of 557 prisoners with a similar profile in the 1990s. And he found that the rate of recidivism was around 5 percent.
“That is low, especially if you compare it with the percentage for ordinary crime, which according to other studies is between 40% and 50%,” he told De Tijd.
“Even if you take into account the complexity of such recidivism studies and the difficulty of comparing, there remains a clear difference.”
The reason for the mistaken idea of recidivism among public and professionals alike is, he suggests, the fact that some prominent faces keep on reappearing, while the majority move on to other things – sometimes ordinary crime, but more often not.
“I’m certainly not suggesting we should now cut the budgets of the intelligence services and stop deradicalization projects because there is only 5% recidivism,” he said. “But one can take this into account, for example when passing sentences and discussing policy measures.”