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Prison in Norway focuses on reform in a comfortable environment

If you imagine a prison yard, it may not much resemble the one pictured below, from Halden prison near Oslo, Norway. 


Alex Masi

A woman trainer (right) is talking to a few inmates after a run in the yard of the luxurious Halden Fengsel, (prison) after the time they regularly spend carrying out physical exercise and learning about the human body in Halden, near Oslo, Norway.

Here's how photographer Alex Masi introduces the project at his gallery on PhotoShelter:

Can luxury prisons and a more humane approach to detention be a deterrent for crime in modern society?

The answer lies in Halden, Norway.

About a 100 Km south of Oslo, a state of-the-art prison considered by many the World's most 'luxurious' has opened in June 2010, in a country already boasting criminal and rehabilitation systems of the highest standards. 

Individual cells come with an en-suite bathroom, a flat-screen TV and various comforts. They measure 12 square meters (130 square feet) and are divided up into units (10 to 12) which share a living room and kitchen, similarly to a students' dormitory.

The windows are not fitted with bars, but thick glass is used instead.

The prison - the second-largest in Norway - costs 165m Euro and accommodates 248 male inmates. Some 760,000 Euro were spent just on artworks, some of which commissioned to Norway's most renowned street artist, Dolk.

The inmates can attend a vast range of formative courses at a official high school located inside the prison. Subjects can include languages, IT, science, catering, music, (there is even a professional sound studio) art and handicraft and several sports.


Alex Masi

Inmates are preparing some food in one of the common kitchen and living room areas established to be a meeting point between inmates and guards and to facilitate rehabilitation inside the luxurious Halden Fengsel, (prison) near Oslo, Norway.

Interestingly, statistics show that in Norway only 20% of inmates (1 in 5) commit another crime and return to prison within two years of their release. 
Halden Prison is set to push the number to a new low, but is the same care and investment effectively affordable to all?

We first noticed these images in a slideshow at foreignpolicy.com, which noted in accompanying text: 

Norway's unrepentant mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, is now under arrest. And he should count himself lucky for -- if entirely undeserving of -- a penal system in that country that is among the cushiest in the world. There's no capital punishment, and the longest jail term allowed is 21 years (a caveat: if a prisoner is deemed to still be a threat, his sentence can be extended in five-year blocks indefinitely, though it's highly unlikely, according to Norwegian officials).