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Emergence of Sunni Islam in America's Prisons

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 69 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 49-51
Y. N. Baykan
Date Published
February 2007
3 pages
This article briefly examines the evolution and emergence of the Sunni Muslim movement within the facility walls of the New York Department of Corrections, as well as other States across the country and the challenges facing correctional staff.
In the post-September 11, 2001, environment, correctional authorities should be concerned about the growing threat of recruitment and indoctrination of United States prison inmates by Islamists for terrorism purposes. There is strong evidence that United States and European prisons are being used by extremists for recruitment. This evidence is seen in New York’s State prisons, where the prisons became a training ground and model for the expansion of the Sunni Muslim movement. The expansion of the Sunni movement has been identified in a Maryland State prison, where current Sunni inmate groups are strikingly similar in ideology and organizational operation to that originally developed in the New York State correctional system. Sunni inmates have formed sophisticated networks in prison. Their communities are independent of each other, yet share the same organizational structure. Sunni networks present enormous management challenges to prison authorities involving national security implications. United States prison administrators must evaluate existing policies and strategies and develop knowledge-based competencies. They need to gather intelligence and form an integrated picture of the threat. Correctional authorities must raise awareness of the posing threat. 13 endnotes