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Inhumane prison conditions, overcrowding and ill-treatment are factors that may contribute to the increase of radicalisation in the European prison system. In this context, young adult prisoners aged 18-29 are considered vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation as they are still in the process of developing their identity. At the same time, though, the time spent in detention is a capital phase in a detainee’s life and what is done with this time can help the individual change both mindset and behaviour. Prisons can be “engines for positive change”, offering a “second chance” to criminals.

Mission and goals

The project aims to contribute to the prevention and decrease of radicalization and violent extremism in European prisons by providing data and actionable knowledge on juveniles (namely those who are still minors, but can be held responsible and therefore imprisoned, depending on the national criminal legislation) and young adults (between the age of 18 and 29) inmates considered as vulnerable/at risk groups who could be or become radicalized, and by assessing the effectiveness of existing prevention/de-radicalisation/disengagement programmes and interventions involving these target groups.

In particular, SERENY aims to:

foster the adoption of evidence-based youth radicalization prevention programs and practices in detention settings, respectful of international, EU and CoE human rights laws and standards;

provide actionable knowledge and tools (guidelines, handbooks, case studies) to strengthen prison managers, front-line civil, prison and probation staff capacity to understand, pick up and detect early signals of radicalization among juveniles and young adult inmates;

enhance synergies and best pratices sharing among academia, prison and probation staff, human rights NGOs, penitentiary administrators, and key players involved in youth radicalisation prevention to favour links between research and practice and to foster a wide adoption of SERENY practical tools and resources

What we do

The project involves national and international experts from different thematic areas (legal experts, psychologists, human rights observers), providing Member States with data and knowledge to empower penitentiary administrations (prison managers, front-line civil, prison and probation staff) to implement an effective prevention strategy targeted to juveniles and young adult inmates grounded on a human rights-based approach. The research endeavor will encompass a comparative desk analysis in 8 Countries (Albania, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain), leading to the identification of the strengths, resources and best practices that can be leveraged on to facilitate de-radicalization processes. A particular focus will be placed on qualitative and quantitative data analysis related to the individual and psychological dimension involved in youth radicalisation processes in prison and probation settings across 5 Countries (Albania, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Spain).

Which benefits will SERENY produce?

Prison managers, front-line civil, prison and probation staff will have access to comparable data related to radicalization prevention programs, finding guidance to the implementation of practices respectful of young inmates’ human rights, according to international and EU standards.

Prison managers and front-line staff, who work daily with at-risk youths, will improve their capacity to understand, pick up and detect early signals of radicalization within such vulnerable target groups and apply interventions/programmes which proved to be effective in preventing and countering radicalization in prison.

Increased sharing of ideas, perspectives, experiences and good practices, contributing to an open social innovation dialogue across Europe addressing the multifaceted aspects of the youth radicalization phenomenon.


Sereny is implemented by a Consortium of 7 transdisciplinary Partners from Albania, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Spain.