Halden Prison

Welcome to Halden Prison in Norway

Hard Time or a Nice Time?

ŠĒ• The Guardian

This article in hard left pommy paper The Guardian may cause a few heart palpitations amongst the more conservative of the Whale army .It does raise some interesting points though about prisons:

Halden prison smells of freshly brewed coffee. It hits you in the workshop areas, lingers in the games rooms and in the communal apartment-style areas where prisoners live together in groups of eight. This much coffee makes you hungry, so a couple of hours after lunch the guards on Unit A (a quiet, separated wing where sex offenders are held for their own protection) bring inmates a tall stack of steaming, heart-shaped waffles and pots of jam, which they set down on a checked tablecloth and eat together, whiling away the afternoon.

The other remarkable thing is how quiet the prison is. There isn’t any of the enraged, persistent banging of doors you hear in British prisons, not least because the prisoners are not locked up much during the day. The governor, Are H√łidal, is surprised when I ask about figures for prisoner attacks on guards, staff hospitalisations, guard restraints on prisoners, or prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. I¬†explain that British prisons are required to log this data, and that the last prison I visited had a¬†problem with prisoners melting screws into plastic pens, to use as stabbing weapons; he looks startled, says there isn’t much violence here and he can’t remember the last time there was a fight.

Halden is one of¬†Norway‘s highest-security jails, holding rapists, murderers and paedophiles. Since it opened two years ago, at a cost of 1.3bn¬†Norwegian kroner (¬£138m), it has acquired a reputation as the world’s most humane prison. It is the flagship of the Norwegian justice system, where the focus is on¬†rehabilitation rather than¬†punishment.