Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Norway's penal philosophy

Norway's newest jail may hold rapists and murderers, but Halden Prison -- the country's second largest and most secure facility -- looks more like a posh sleepaway camp. In fact, architects say they purposely tried to avoid an "institutional feel." ...

Indeed, one of the many perks at Halden is flat-screen televisions in inmates' rooms. There's no HBO, though, so reruns of Oz and The Wire are contraband. Still, prisoners get private cells with mini-fridges and large windows to let in more sunlight. ...

Prisoners spend a lot of time out of their cells; exercise is encouraged. And in Halden, not only is there clean air but personal trainers. ...

At Halden, the inmates can form their own band. And what's more, they can lay down an album in the prison's professional recording studio. ...

The well-stocked library at Halden contains not only books but magazines, CDs, and DVDs. ...

Inmates share common kitchens and living rooms. Some common areas are designated as places where both inmates and guards can meet and mingle -- or, you know, just hang out.

The prison boasts a state-of-the-art gym, complete with a rock-climbing wall. ...

An inmate in his private bathroom -- one of many amenities that make Halden feel more like a college dorm than a prison.

An inmate learns to ride a unicycle in the prison gym. Seriously.

Dolk, a Norwegian Banksy-style graffiti artist, was commissioned to create art for the prison -- at a price tag of $1 million.
--Foreign Policy on a not-bad place to hang out for 21 years