DERADICALIZATION IN PRISON
Radicals, by definition and persuasion, are those who advocate for a thorough or complete social or political reform through extreme measures. They are oftentimes referred to as revolutionaries, progressives or reformists. They are never known to subscribe to norms or any acceptable social behaviour that preserves the status quo. In other words, they are for immediate, sudden change of the social order even if in the process the recourse may be outside of law or even if the means is considered criminal. The State has nothing to do with these people since they operate outside of the legal system. At best, when apprehended or caught espousing their mission, they are eventually brought to the bar of justice and therefrom impose the rule of law.
What happen next is that they are sent to the calaboose to serve time along with the so called common felons. In prison, unlike in the free community where they came from, they are subsequently mixed. At first glance, their impulse is to regroup and regain their foothold but the numerical strength of those at the other end provides a reckoning set back. They either would perish brandishing their cause or survive just by swimming along with the tide.
And so, acceptance and resignation become their nature in understanding their new environment. Everything around them spells institutional order. They are given designation regardless of offense. They assimilate and receive the usual and traditional reception given to any ordinary prisoner. At times, they are even recruited to be members of gangs, groups that represent the requirements for institutional survival.
After a year, they no longer believe in their cause, at least for the time being. They are preoccupied with the daily grind in the prison community. They are more concerned with domestic woes, food, shelter and basic needs including laundry and personal care. In a way, environment has a way of taming the wild. Imprisonment to an offender creates this condition, in much the same way, a cage does to endangered specie.
The radical is deradicalized even without institutional or organized intervention.
The question of a radical radicalizing his environment is pure myth. Unless of course the basic principle on which an ideological concept will simply be embraced in the pragmatic sense. Unless of course the world view expressed to the vulnerable community is done along spiritual means.
Religion is the most effective and the most fervent of all influence. A prisoner languishing in prison has no other way to reach out and grab sanity unless he surrenders himself to a supernatural concept. If he does not believe in a Supreme Being, he has no alternative but invent one. To preserve his sanity and sense of realism he must personally cling to this self-preserving approach. Note that there is nothing social or sociological in this self sustaining adherence. The radical has so much to confront, most of which were his personal demons before he could project himself as an effective medium.
This explains the fact that most of those branded as radicals and penalized to serve time as such would rather get into the groove of religion. First, to maintain his grasp on reality and secondly, and this is a long shot, to influence those around him. There is too much selfishness in a homogenous grouping before anything gregarious is to take place.
Radicalism in prison is never an issue and it will never even take shape at all. Nelson Mandela, one of the most famous prisoners in history, was deradicalized while serving time. Before him, we have Napoleon Bonaparte, Ninoy Aquino, Nilo Tayag, even Jose Rizal. If at all, radicalism would serve a person in prison, it was only to enhance their world view on honesty, respect for humanity and patience. These are qualities that make a person matured and enough consideration for him to further evolve into a better person learned in the art of understanding. And that is exactly the opposite of what radicalization means.