Federal officials are working with prisons in dozens of states to improve intelligence gathering and monitoring of inmates in a campaign to curb homegrown terrorism, reports USA Today. The FBI and Homeland Security Department are urging prisons to do more extensive background checks on workers and volunteers who meet with inmates. Members of Congress are looking at possible reforms in prison security to combat the spread of extremist Islamic beliefs. One concern is that radical Muslim clerics could have access to prisoners and coerce them with terrorist literature. Said Donald Van Duyn, the FBI’s counterterrorism director, “We’re working to improve monitoring, improve training and increase awareness.”
Among steps federal officials are urging prisons to take: develop more informants and set up more intelligence units; train prison staff to recognize signs that prisoners are turning to extremist propaganda, sharing radical views, and attempting to convert other inmates; and conduct background checks on volunteers and workers to ensure extremist Muslim clerics don’t have access to prisoners.