Anyone who's been to a U.S. prison, or even seen one on TV, might be surprised by Norway's Halden maximum-security penitentiary.
Opened in 2010 at a cost of about $280 million, the flagship of Norway's criminal justice system has won multiple awards for its minimalist modern design. If not for its tall, insurmountable concrete wall — tastefully hidden behind a mossy green birch forest — you might mistake it for a "Scandinavian boutique hotel," says Amelia Gentleman at Britain's The Guardian.
Every murderer, rapist, and pedophile has his own room with a flat-screen TV, private shower and toilet, fridge, fluffy white towels, and a view of mountainous scenery through large, bar-free windows.
The cost of maintaining prisoners at Halden costs about $500 per inmate per night. What are the Norwegians thinking? And does their remarkably "humane" prison system actually work?
Let's just put it this way, says Truthdig, "If you're going to commit a jailable offense, do it in Norway." Prisoners are encouraged to spend almost all day outside of their well-apportioned cells — paid to, actually, about $9 a day. They mingle with college-trained guards and life-coach counselors, eat waffles and other foods delivered on white ceramic dishes, have constant access to fresh-brewed coffee, and can spend their time in couch-outfitted common areas, on the beautiful grounds, at classes or workshops, or even in the prison's recording studio.