BRITISH PRISON v’s NORWEGIAN PRISON
The crime rate in Norway is among the lowest in Europe and their rates reoffending are among the lowest in the world today. The answer to how the Scandinavian nation achieves these figures could be partly due its prisons, one of has the moniker of “the world’s most humane jail”. Prisoners can if they wish sit down for dinner with staff, learn woodwork,play music and cook their own meals. There is a strong sense of community with an emphasis on preparing inmates for life at liberty back on the street. Here in the UK our rates of incarceration and reoffending remain astonishingly high. That should pose the question is it time to consider introducing ideas from Norway’s prisons to our own overcrowded and violent prisons?Lets have a look at one prison in Norway, the inmates there are given decent conditions with the chance to develop some new skills before they start a new life at liberty in the community.
HALDEN PRISON NORWAY
Halden is a maximum-security prison that has three main units. Even though it houses serious offenders murderers and rapists included, it lacks conventional security devices like the usual barbed the odd electric fences, obligatory towers or a sniper on roof. Sex offenders, that would be subjected to violence most likely by other inmates, and those who require psychiatric monitoring, are kept in a separate unit, there is also a special unit focused on addiction and recovery.
Halden prison is designed to mirror life outside jail and is worldly renowned for its humane conditions. It is based on an idea from the government no less that “the smaller the difference between life inside and outside the prison, the easier the transition from prison to freedom will be”
FRIDGES AND FLATSCREEN TV’S
Halden Prison looks nothing like it’s counterparts in the UK.There Inmates can expect a fully equipped kitchens with no bars on the windows and friendships even with the guards. All of Halden’s 252 inmates are given a cell that contains a fridge, a flat-screen TV and en-suite bathroom. The decor of Halden includes Moroccan tiles, large-scale pictures of flowers and Parisian streets, with interiors made of steel, brick and wood rather than concrete.
A recent documentary saw American prison warden James Conway visiting Halden to learn more about Norway’s take on rehabilitation, on seeing inmates sitting down for dinner with prison officers. He said “This is prison utopia, i don’t think you could go any more liberal, other than giving the inmates the keys”
ARE NORWAY’S PRISONS TO LUXURIOUS?
It is understandable that Some people are strongly critical of Halden Prison, they argue that the inmates have committed serious crimes therefore in their opinion they do not deserve the “luxury” provided. The Rightwing politicians of Norway have also been critical of Halden for housing foreign offenders also, arguing that the facilities should be reserved for Norway’s citizens only. At the moment though the Norwegian government has committed to this approach, the rates of crime in Norway as well as recidivism and incarceration show that something is working. The director of Halden prison ‘Are Hoidel’ said: ““Every inmate in Norwegian prison is going back to society. Do you want people who are angry or people who are rehabilitated?”
Well what do you think?
This approach to prisons adopted by Norway is influenced strongly by the experiment carried out in the Scottish prison system many years ago.
The Barlinnie Special Unit housed some of Scotland’s most violent and disruptive prisoners and basically had the same approach that is now being implemented in Norway and other countries.
Guess what the overall results were? Yes you guessed it, it worked. When will governments and countries that run regimes that only produce re-offenders and drug addicts realise that the humane approach actually works, lowers re-offending dramatically and produces a more balanced equipped human being ready to be released back into society.
Do they want change though? I honestly don’t think they do. Dark forces are at work friends, to many powerful rich people have stakes in private prisons both here and in the US, and until we, the proleteriat realise that it is our son’s and daughters that are imprisoned to line the pockets of these creatures and if we don’t shout loud enough for change then will.
- I have included a few useful links;