The French government said Tuesday it planned to stop segregating Islamist inmates due to worries the short-lived practice risked deepening radicalism in the country's prisons rather than stemming its spread.

Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said he would shut down four special wards that authorities had established inside prisons in recent years. Instead, the government plans to transform some of the wards into units where inmates will stay for four months to determine if they are hardened radicals. Anyone deemed dangerous will then be transferred to high-security facilities designed for violent inmates or to isolation wards, he added.

The new system cuts short the government's experimentation with a therapeutic approach that aimed to "deradicalize" inmates through counseling while separating them from the prison's general population. Authorities have long worried that French prisons have become an incubator for terror attacks, allowing petty criminals to come into contact with Islamist recruiters.

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