Punishment is not a word the Norwegian prison system likes to use – they prefer rehabilitation. Norway is currently going through an experiment of treating prisoners as humanely as possible in the hope they don”t fall back into crime when they”re released, and it seems to be working for them with a recidivism rate of about 5%.
Just look at Halden prison, which at times seems more like a summer camp than a prison. So if you haven”t thought about retiring in a Norwegian prison before, you will after seeing these pictures.
The prison yard at Halden has lots of trees, which minimize the institutional feel.
Is that a picture from an IKEA? Nope, that”s just a standard room at Halden prison. They even come with a private en-suite bathroom.
Every 10 or 12 cells share a living room like this one and a kitchen. Prisoners prepare their own meals in the evenings and can relax here after their work day.
Just because you are in prison that doesn”t mean you lose your health care. State services like doctors, dentists and even librarians are all available to prisoners.
Every prison guard in Norway undergoes two years of training and are trained to motivate the inmates as much as possible “so that his sentence is as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible.” Half the guards at Halden prison are women since the governor has found it to reduce tension and encourage better behavior.
The prison has art work scattered around, along with art classes they are meant to inspire the prisoners and give them a sense of being taken seriously.
The sport hall is open from 8AM to 8PM and prison guards organize all kinds of activities, they find that prisoners who are occupied are far less likely to lash out.
Are you a musically talented prisoner? Well then of course the prison has a recording studio where you can jam!
The inside of the prison is scattered with color, meant to create a sense of variety as well as being proven to stimulate better moods.
In this kitchen prisoners can partake in cooking classes to teach them the basics of nutrition and cooking, so when they go back to their own shared kitchens they know what to cook.
What do you think? Is this the way to go or not?
One thing is for certain: as far as Norway goes, it seems to be working. With the country boasting the lowest re-offending rates in Europe, the only ones that come close are other Nordic nations that also believe in a more “cushy prison” experience for criminals.
Of course, one could argue that this is simply due to the smaller and more cohesive population and it would never work in a larger, more diverse country.
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