Monday 25 February 2013 08.00 GMT
The Norwegian prison where inmates are treated like people
"On Bastoy prison island in Norway, the prisoners, some of whom are murderers and rapists, live in conditions that critics brand 'cushy' and 'luxurious'. Yet it has by far the lowest reoffending rate in Europe
An inmate sunbathes on the deck of his bungalow on Bastoy. An inmate sunbathes on the deck of his bungalow on Bastoy.
The first clue that things are done very differently on Bastoy prison island, which lies a couple of miles off the coast in the Oslo fjord, 46 miles south-east of Norway's capital, comes shortly after I board the prison ferry. I'm taken aback slightly when the ferry operative who welcomed me aboard just minutes earlier, and with whom I'm exchanging small talk about the weather, suddenly reveals he is a serving prisoner – doing 14 years for drug smuggling. He notes my surprise, smiles, and takes off a thick glove before offering me his hand. "I'm Petter," he says.
Before he transferred to Bastoy, Petter was in a high-security prison for nearly eight years. "Here, they give us trust and responsibility," he says. "They treat us like grownups." I haven't come here particularly to draw comparisons, but it's impossible not to consider how politicians and the popular media would react to a similar scenario in Britain."
Wednesday 4 September 2013
Bastoy: the Norwegian prison that works
"Arne Kvernvik Nilsen, the departing governor of a prison with a reoffending rate of just 16%, shares the secrets of his remarkable success."