SERENY – Strengthening approaches for the prevention of youth radicalisation in prison and probation settings

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 (Jones, 2004; Horgan, 2010).

Mission and goals

In the light of a growing need for a common political strategy and effective prevention measures, the EU-funded research project SERENY aims to strengthen intervention programs to prevent youth radicalization in prison and probation settings at European level. Based on a comparative assessment of youth radicalization prevention programs and practices across 8 case study Countries, the seven international Partner organizations will develop concrete policy proposals to inform practitioners, citizens and stakeholders within and beyond the regions under study. 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 concerned operators with knowledge and insights from primary data and qualitative studies allowing to measure the impact on individuals’ evolution towards and away from radicalization;
  • enhance synergies among academia and practitioners, human rights NGOs, penitentiary administrators and key actors.

What we do

The recently launched research project SERENY has set out to advance evidence-based knowledge on youth radicalisation prevention measures, and to strengthen the capacity of policymakers for an effective prevention strategy targeted to young adult inmates based on a human rights centered approach. The research endeavor will encompass empirical studies in 8 Countries (Albania, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Spain), conducting comprehensive analysis of the similarities and differences between different national contexts. A particular focus will be placed on qualitative and quantitative data analysis of individual and psychological dimension of youth radicalisation processes and related prevention programs in prison and probation settings across 5 Countries (Albania, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Spain).

Which benefits will SERENY produce?

  • Prison and probation administrators and policymakers 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
  • Front-line operators, who work daily with at-risk youths, will achieve greater understanding of the individual dimension of radicalization processes to timely detect early signals of radicalization and act on them, and to protect young people from the dangerous speeches that are conveyed (especially online) by involving them in a constructive dialogue over time.
  • Increased multi-disciplinary 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.


  • University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”
  • University of Palermo
  • University for Continuing Education Krems
  • University of Barcelona
  • Prodos Consulting
  • People's Advocate Albania


  • European Commission
  • Ministry of Public Administration (NGO Fund)