Scientific Support of the Project “Fokus ISLEX”

Mobile Measures for Prevention and Deradicalization in the Prison System and Probation Service of Lower Saxony

Background and goals of the Fokus ISLEX project

The model project Fokus ISLEX is implemented by the executing agency Violence Prevention Network gGmbH and includes a comprehensive package of measures for prevention, training, intervention and deradicalization in the Lower Saxony prison system and in the probation service in the phenomenon area of Islamist extremism. The measures cover all phases of “typical” radicalization processes and range from diagnostics and intervention measures to reintegration and, if necessary, exit support for the imprisoned persons concerned.

Focal points of the scientific support by modus|zad: Social diagnostics

The observation and evaluation of individual processes of distancing from religiously based extremism have so far been insufficiently supported both empirically and theoretically. The literature on this topic is roughly divided into two dimensions: “risk orientation” and “resource orientation”. While contributions in the first dimension focus primarily on security-related issues in order to assess the likelihood of (potentially) radicalized individuals resorting to violence, studies that concentrate on resources focus on possibilities and assessments of an individual’s potential for change in the sense of distancing themselves. The instruments developed to date for this purpose are, on the one hand, not sufficiently validated and, on the other hand, only of limited suitability for the pedagogical practice of prevention and distancing work. Since positively assessed resources (protective factors) do not guarantee disengagement from extremist ideologies, it also seems necessary to expand social diagnostics to include a dimension that includes the individually perceived quality of the relationship to the world in addition to risk and protective factors.

The goal of the scientific support was to develop a robust theoretical framework, practical (further) development and implementation of a holistic diagnostic instrument that combines the dimensions of risk, resources and resonance and thus provides a picture of individual processes of turning away from extremist actors that is as adequate as possible in terms of complexity.

The results of the scientific monitoring can be divided into two areas: On the one hand, social diagnostics positively influenced practical counseling work in various facets (systematization, confidence and ability to act, documentation, self-reflection processes, reporting basis, application of methods, etc.); on the other hand, it contributed to applied distancing research by implementing and empirically examining the diagnostic cycle. First theoretical workups have shown that the resonance theory can contribute to the further development and foundation of social diagnostics on different levels. The scientific team of the Violence Prevention Network gGmbH takes up the findings made and integrates them further into the diagnostic tool.