Deterrence in violent extremism

Can violent extremism be countered with harsher punishments? This project aims to evaluate strategies within the criminal justice system to counter violent extremism.

Over the years, research on the "crime-terror nexus" has shifted from examining cooperation between criminal and terrorist group to studying overlaps between crime and violent extremism at both the phenomenon and offender levels. Overlaps have been found with regard to risk and protective factors, spatial-temporal patterns, recidivism, and prevention strategies. The collective findings highlight the contribution of traditional criminological inquiries and frameworks to understanding and combatting violent extremism. 

While democratic countries may differ in their Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) approaches, all include the involvement of the criminal justice system. From hate crimes to terrorism, investigations, arrests, prosecutions, judicial decisions, and sentencing are handled by the criminal justice system. Like other CVE strategies, there is lack of evaluation concerning the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in combatting violent extremism. This project seeks to examine deterrence models in the context of violent extremism in Canada and Sweden and to identify whether the "crime-terror nexus" extends to this area. The research questions demonstrate the policy relevance of the inquiry:

  1. Do rates of violent extremism offending increase or decrease as a result of fluctuations in the likelihood of arrest, conviction, and severity of punishment?
  2. Does violent extremism offending react to the likelihood of arrest, conviction, and severity of punishment similar to other forms of crime?
  3. Are there differences in violent extremism offending's reactions to deterrence factors based on the nature of the offence?
  4. Are there differences in violent extremism offending's reactions to deterrence factors between Canada and Sweden?
  5. Are there differences in violent extremism offending's reactions to deterrence factors at the national versus local level?
  6. Do changes in sentence lengths (increases or decreases) for violent extremism offending have any appreciable effect on rates of violent extremism offending?

IFFS is a project partner in this project. This project is based at the University of Waterloo, Canada

Duration

2021-2022

Principal Investigator

Michael Wolfowicz PhD Criminology

Funding

University of Waterloo