There is a country where there is no death penalty, and maximum prison sentence is 21 years. A place where inmates spend their time learning new skills and preparing to get back on their feet after their release. A prison where inmates can host their families in luxury overnight. Chances are these inmates are living better than many apartment complex an average American could afford to live in. Halden Prison in Norway is branded the most humane prison in the world.
Since most inmates will eventually return to society due to maximum 21 year sentences, Halden mimics the outside world as much as possible to prepare them for freedom. Rooms include en-suite bathrooms with ceramic tiles, mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs. Officials say sleeker televisions afford inmates less space to hide drugs and other contraband.
You might think your new dorm is pretty cool or maybe your apartment lobby is nicer than usual and you’re probably paying thousands for that luxury but nuh uh, not at Halden. Every 10 to 12 cells share a kitchen and living room, where everyone from rapists to mass murders like Breivik can prepare their evening meals and relax after a day of work. Oh by the way, did I mention none of the windows at Halden have bars? Aahh Luxury…
What did you say? your apartment complex doesn’t have a sports complex? Well in the Luxurious Halden, security guards organize inmate activities from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM giving them a chance for inmates to pick up a new hobby. It’s also a part of the prison’s “dynamic security strategy” — occupied prisoners are less likely to lash out at guards and one another. Inmates can shoot hoops on the above basketball court, which absorbs falls on impact (because God forbid a pedophile sprains an elbow), and make use of a rock-climbing wall, jogging trails and a soccer field.
There’s also a recording studio with a professional mixing board with in-house music teachers who refer to the inmates as “pupils,” instead of “prisoners” because you know, we don’t want to stigmatize them. The instructors work with their “pupils” on piano, guitar, bongos and more. In fact, three members of Halden’s security-guard chorus recently competed on Norway’s version of American Idol. They have high hopes to produce the prison’s first musical starring inmates later this year. It’s going to be called “I Can’t Believe This is Prison”.
Inmates need to be comfortable. That’s why Halden’s architects preserved trees across the 75-acre site to obscure the 20-ft.-high security wall that surrounds the prison, in order to minimize the institutional feel and in the words of one architect, to “let the inmates see all of the seasons.” There’s also benches and stone chessboards dot this jogging trail, you know, to take in the beauty of the seasons or play a relaxing game of chess.
The prison’s exterior features earthy brown hues that help it blend in with the surrounding woodlands. Inside, however, the walls explode with color. Halden hired an interior decorator who used 18 different colors to create a sense of variety and stimulate various moods. A calming shade of green creates a soothing atmosphere in the cells, while a vivid orange brings energy to the library and other working areas. A two-bedroom guesthouse, where inmates can host their families overnight, includes a conjugal room painted a fiery red. Because red is for passion!
Oh, and about the people running this joint you ask? Norway’s prison guards undergo two years of training at an officers’ academy and enjoy an elevated status compared with their peers in the U.S. and Britain. Their official job description says they must motivate the inmate “so that his sentence is as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible,” so they frequently eat meals and play sports with prisoners. At Halden, half of all guards are female, which its governor believes reduces tension and encourages good behavior.
Norwegian inmates lose their right to freedom but not to state services like health care. Dentists, doctors, nurses and even librarians work in the local municipality, preventing a subpar prison standard from developing. On-site, Halden boasts a small hospital and this state-of-the-art dentist’s office.
To help inmates develop routines and to reduce the monotony of confinement(you know how much that can suck right?), designers spread Halden’s living quarters, work areas and activity centers across the prison grounds. In this “kitchen laboratory,” inmates learn the basics of nutrition and cooking. Sometimes homemade orange sorbet and slices of tropical fruit line the table. Prisoners can take courses that will prepare them for careers as caterers, chefs and waiters.
Source Travon Free