Opening the newspaper is a nightmare these days — it is often full of depressing and frustrating news. People in deadly accidents, immigrants thrown out of countries for the lack of a piece of paper, mass killings, religious outrage, and environmental pollution. All these and more make us think about where our future is headed. As the most intelligent beings on earth, shouldn’t we do something about all this instead of just sitting here? While leaders continue to find ways to make this world a better place, one country is becoming more and more famous due to its effective and humane laws. Norway is an exceptional country in so many ways and now it has set another precedent for us to follow.
Retribution Or Rehabilitation
Norwegians asked themselves long ago: what is the purpose of prison? Is it for retribution or rehabilitation? In most prisons across the world, inmates are treated roughly. These people were sentenced for their wrongdoings, but do prisons have the right kind of facilities to bring them back to normal life? Most prisons don’t. Though there are some routines found in all prisons like exercising regularly and teaching useful skills, inmates are still treated poorly, and it is probably hard for them to concentrate on getting better. That is not the case in Norway. How so? They simply treat their prisoners as human beings. No wonder the country has the lowest recidivism rates in the world.
How It All Started
Back in the sixties, locals were unhappy with the correctional facilities. Hence, they formed an association to address this issue. Over the years, this association changed the way correctional facilities operated. It also had a big role to play with some rules and regulations. For example, there is no death penalty in Norway and neither is life imprisonment. Instead, the court has the power to decide if a person should be serving more years depending on their rehabilitation status. As of 2017, there were close to only 4000 people in the prisons, out of which only 6% were female and 0.1% juvenile. About 30% were born abroad.
Prisons That Treat Everyone As Humans
The only thing lacking in prison is liberty. Otherwise, it is not a bad place to live. Inmates are taught yoga and other forms of exercises in the morning. For the rest of the day, they have educational and skill-training classes. Each person has their own pod which restricts interaction with other inmates during odd hours. This helps in keeping the prison subculture at bay. The inmates can watch television, use the computer, and take showers whenever they want. It is like living in a village or a close community. The prisoners at Bastoy Island, which is 30 km from Oslo, even swim and fish in summer. Lunch is usually provided by the authorities but since the inmates earn close to £6 a day, they get a food allowance, with which they buy groceries and cook the other meals at the common kitchen.
What Do The Prisoners Do?
They grow their own food, maintain the farm, and tend the garden to grow fruits and vegetables. They also do their own laundry, repair bikes, and a few other activities. Some of them have their own bikes to go around the island. They also call up their family from the phone booths and can meet them as well. As the governor of the Bastoy island says, “In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is that you lose your freedom. If we treat people like animals when they are in prison they are likely to behave like animals. Here we pay attention to you as human beings.” Fair enough, we say!
Despite having some of the most hardened criminals in the country, the prison has been able to serve as rehab for them and has changed them for good. Isn’t this how it should be in all countries? The inmates turn out to better people once they finished serving their sentence. Once out, they are armed with the proper life skills to turn over a new leaf. The prisons of Norway might seem like a holiday camp to many when seen from the outside, but in reality, they are doing a far better job than most prisons in other counties.