Follow by Email

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bastoy Island prison, Norway

On Bastoy Island in Norway, prisoners are treated with respect, even rapists and murderers.  Although some inmates are segregated, the rest live in small, separate communities which sets them apart from the harsh prison subculture that occurs in traditional prisons.  And it's paid off - Norway has the lowest re-offending figures in Europe.  Only 16 per cent of prisoners released from Bastoy Island re-offend.

Inmates live in small wooden houses that accommodate up to six people.  Every man has his own bedroom and they share the kitchen and other amenities.  Only one meal a day is provided in the dining hall.

The men earn $9 a day and get an allowance of $103 per month to buy food for their own breakfasts and evening meals.  There are phone boxes where they can call family and friends and weekly visits take place in private family rooms and conjugal relations are allowed.  It has a small community feel with a church, school and a library.

The working day begins at 8.30am on the farm tending sheep, cows and chickens or in the vegetable gardens growing fruit and vegetables. Other jobs available are in the laundry, looking after the horses, the bicycle repair shop, ground maintenance and the timber workshop.

All Norwegian prisoners can apply for transfer to Bastoy when they have up to five years left to serve, and rapists and murderers are not excluded.  There is only one requirement - they must show a determination to live crime-free when released.

There are only three rules that must be obeyed at Bastoy - no violence, no alcohol and no drugs.

But there could be another reason why the Norwegians are having such success.  It takes three years to train a prison guard in Norway and only six weeks in Australia and Britain.