Norway's penal system has gathered some attention recently, as the new Halden prison
just opened. The $217 million facility will house 252 prisoners, some long-term and some short. The new prison is notable for, among other things, use of armoured glass instead of bars on windows, natural lighting
and single-inmate cells with private showers, TVs and access to a gym and a sound studio. There was also an art budget, and Norwegian street artist Dolk
was commisioned to decorate some of the walls. The Norwegian penal system is similar to the other Scandinavian countries', with no death penalty, and a "life" sentence of 21 years. In Norway there are no privately run incarceration facilities, and the opening of the rather plush-seeming Halden prison spurred some discussion, but garnered no big controversy.
Another example of Norway's prisons is the 115-inmate open facility Bastøy, profiled here
. This is an island, where inmates are housed four to a house and expected to work restoring the historical buildings on the island and help run its working farm. Then-warden Øyvind Alnæs is quoted in the article as saying "The biggest mistake that our societies have made is to believe that you must punish hard to change criminals. This is wrong. The big closed prisons are criminal schools. If you treat people badly, they will behave badly. Anyone can be a citizen if we treat them well, respect them, and give them challenges and demands."
Norway's incarceration rate is 69 per 100,000 population, compared to the United States' 760 (Wiki
). The murder rates are 0.7 and 5.4, respectively (Wiki
). A Daily Mail article
on the new Halden prison claims the recidivism rate of released prisoners in Norway is about 20%, compared to the UK's 50-60%.