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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:46 AM

 

The Norwegian prison where inmates are treated like people

On Bastoy prison island in Norway, the prisoners, some of whom are murderers and rapists, live in conditions that critics brand 'cushy' and 'luxurious'. Yet it has by far the lowest reoffending rate in Europe

The first clue that things are done very differently on Bastoy prison island, which lies a couple of miles off the coast in the Oslo fjord, 46 miles south-east of Norway's capital, comes shortly after I board the prison ferry. I'm taken aback slightly when the ferry operative who welcomed me aboard just minutes earlier, and with whom I'm exchanging small talk about the weather, suddenly reveals he is a serving prisoner doing 14 years for drug smuggling. He notes my surprise, smiles, and takes off a thick glove before offering me his hand. "I'm Petter," he says.

Before he transferred to Bastoy, Petter was in a high-security prison for nearly eight years. "Here, they give us trust and responsibility," he says. "They treat us like grownups." I haven't come here particularly to draw comparisons, but it's impossible not to consider how politicians and the popular media would react to a similar scenario in Britain.

There are big differences between the two countries, of course. Norway has a population of slightly less than five million, a 12th of the UK's. It has fewer than 4,000 prisoners; there are around 84,000 in the UK. But what really sets us apart is the Norwegian attitude towards prisoners. Four years ago I was invited into Skien maximum security prison, 20 miles north of Oslo. I had heard stories about Norway's liberal attitude. In fact, Skien is a concrete fortress as daunting as any prison I have ever experienced and houses some of the most serious law-breakers in the country. Recently it was the temporary residence of Anders Breivik, the man who massacred 77 people in July 2011.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/25/norwegian-prison-inmates-treated-like-people?CMP=twt_gu

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Response to MichaelMcGuire (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:56 AM

1. If I wanted to kill someone, I'd do it there.

 

You get treated better in jail there than free people do here. Might be kind of tough to lure your victim in though.

"Hey guy I hate, want go see the northern lights and dine on some elk? Airfare on me."

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:32 AM

5. I'm sure your enemy would be happy to oblige!

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Response to MrSlayer (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:37 AM

6. Yet, the murder rates are so low compared to the US, by a factor of 8.

.6 in Norway to US's 4.8, per 100,000.

Norway is doing it right. The US is doing it so very wrong.

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Response to MichaelMcGuire (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:55 AM

2. Norwegians need to learn that prisons are for punishment and revenge, not respect and rehabilitation

When will they learn that a progressive society requires a vengeful, harsh prison system?

"... in Norway, the prisoners, some of whom are murderers and rapists, live in conditions that critics brand 'cushy' and 'luxurious'. Yet it has by far the lowest reoffending rate in Europe." - If given the alternative that prisons were based on "trust and responsibility" could produce "the lowest reoffending rate", would Americans even choose this over a desire for prisons that punish people harshly with little effort at rehabilitation even if that meant a higher rate of recidivism? I have my doubts.

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Response to pampango (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:00 AM

3. right, look at how we've "cured" our crime problem through a vengeful, harsh prison system!

It's worked so well for us. The Norwegians need to suck it up...

(yeah, I know your post was . just like mine )

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Response to MichaelMcGuire (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:02 AM

4. When you live in a society where people aren't worried about health care, housing, and employment,

the loss of freedom is all it takes to be a punishment.

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