May 6, 2010

Norway's Different Kind of Prison

A sound studio, jogging trails, a freestanding two-bedroom house for family overnight visits, cooking classes, flat screen tvs and mini-fridges in the housing quarters. These are just a few of the amenities provided at Halden, Norway's newest prison. As reported in Time Magazine, treating inmates humanely is a hallmark of the prison: "When they arrive, many of [the prisoners] are in bad shape," Hoidal, the prisoner's governer says, noting that Halden houses drug dealers, murderers and rapists, among others. "We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people...At this prison, guards don't carry guns — that creates unnecessary intimidation and social distance — and they routinely eat meals and play sports with the inmates."

What are recidivism rates like in Norway? The Times reports that even taking into account how different countries measure recidivism rates, Norway still seems to do pretty well. Within two years of their release, 20% of Norway's prisoners end up back in jail. In the U.S. nearly 3 times that amount return to prison within three years. To read the full article, click here.