The image was designed to shock: dozens of Muslims prostrated towards Mecca behind the razor wire of Goulburn's Supermax jail.

"Jailhouse jihad," the headline blared above a story warning that Australia's prisons were becoming a hotbed of extremism.

It's a theme that appears sporadically in the national media. One that, intentionally or otherwise, conflates in the reader's mind prison-based conversions to Islam and radicalisation.

The truth is, as ever, infinitely more complicated.

Academics, imams and prison workers widely agree that conversions to Islam are now commonplace in Australia's prisons. But they say the risk of radicalisation, while present, has been overblown.

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