Examining the Needs and Motivations of Canada’s Federally Incarcerated Radicalized Offenders

Key Words

terrorism, radicalized offender, counter-terrorism, risk-factors, rehabilitation

What it means

This study allowed for an enhanced understanding of the motivations and needs of radicalized offenders,Footnote 1 while providing the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) with further evidence that can be used in its considerations of how to intervene and case manage this population of offenders in the future.

This research underscores the need for increased attention to offender motivation and how it impacts case management, supervision, and intervention strategies for radicalized offenders.

What we found

Results indicated that 30% of radicalized offenders had purely ideological motives for their actions, 17% were purely motivated by criminal (non-ideological) drivers, and 53% held both ideological and non-ideological motivations for their crimes. The most common ideological motivations included a desire for political change, and a desire to respond to a group grievance. Non-ideological motivations were most frequently identified as the desire for material gain and the desire for friendship. Those radicalized offenders who committed the more serious acts (as per the definition of radicalized offender) and those who were seen as leaders of the group were more frequently identified as having purely ideological motivations.

Assessment of criminogenic needs via the Dynamic Factor Identification and Analysis instrument revealed that a large proportion of radicalized offenders had needs in the associates, attitudes, and personal/emotional domains and a small proportion had needs in the areas of substance abuse and community functioning. These differences were more pronounced when ideologically-motivated offenders were examined separately, indicating that perhaps the needs of non-ideologically motivated radicalized offenders are more similar to those found in the non-radicalized, general offender population. Similarly, ideologically motivated offenders held many more of the other violent-extremist needs than did non-ideologically motivated radicalized offenders.

Why we did this study

CSC strives to contribute to the safety and security of society through identifying and addressing the criminogenic needs and criminal motivations of the federally incarcerated offender population. While much is known about the needs of the general offender population, there exists significantly less empirical evidence concerning the needs of those federally-sentenced individuals motivated by ideology: radicalized offenders.

This research sought to examine and understand the specific motivations and needs of federally incarcerated radicalized offenders, with the ultimate goal of contributing to an evidence-based approach to effective correctional interventions and case management for these offenders.

What we did

Using data from the Offender Management System (OMS) as well as information coded from various sources, the motivations (ideological and non-ideological) and needs (criminogenic and other violent extremist) of a sample of radicalized offenders were examined.

For more information

Stys, Y. & Michel, S. (2014).  Examining the Needs and Motivations of Canada’s Federally Incarcerated Radicalized Offenders (Research Report R-344). Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.

To obtain a PDF version of the full report, or for other inquiries, please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.

You can also visit the website for a full list of research publications.


Footnote 1

CSC defines a radicalized offender as “an ideologically motivated offender, who commits, aspires or conspires to commit, or promotes violent acts in order to achieve ideological objectives”.

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