norway prision 3

A Prison, three



ferry criminal ping-pong
likely offender awareness
inmate accused sentence (2)
respect governor re-offend
cell (2) situation doesn’t care
select discover accommodation
violent commit as he pleases
armed in charge companion
escape prepare conventional
various entertain attraction






Even the ferry to this island is run by inmates. They are part of a community that farms, fishes, feeds and entertains itself.

And although Anders Breivik is highly unlikely to experience the luxury of Bastoy, some of Norway’s most serious offenders do see out the final years of their sentences here, learning new skills and perhaps new self-awareness.

Lamin, Prisoner: “I come for learning. For learning and to change my criminality.”

It’s definitely not all about work.

Marten, Prisoner: “In summer time we got our own beach. We can lay there all day and enjoy the sun.”
Journalist: “You like it here, do you?”
Marten: “Uh….uh….It’s…it’s difficult to say I like it — but when you’re in a prison, it’s a nice place to be.”

Because re-offending rates here are the lowest in Europe, at 16%, the man in charge doesn’t care if he is accused of running a holiday camp.

Arne Kvernvik Nilson, Prison Governor: “If they have a good time here or bad time here, it’s not so important for me. The important thing for me is to create a situation in a prison where inmates can discover themselves in a new way, retaining, regaining respect for themselves.”

Journalist: “What about where you sleep? What about accommodation?”
Arne: “Ah, accommodation is over here…”

There are prisons in Norway where inmates spend 23 hours a day in their cells. This prisoner comes and goes as he pleases.
Journalist: “You each have your own room?”
Prisoner: “Yeah, one man in each room.”

There are plenty of home comforts.

Prisoner: “Here we have a TV. Of course, we can also have a washing machine and toothbrush. We have the laptop—but no wireless connection.”

Prisoners can call home when they want.

And even those who have committed the most violent offenses in the past, can be selected to come here where unarmed guards and various farm animals are their companions.

Trying to escape will put straight back to a conventional prison, so there are no escapes, but constant thoughts of freedom.

Cato, Prisoner: “You’re so free—but you’re NOT free, you know what I mean. You know, you go out, you go shopping, you prepare food. You can play ping-pong, football, volleyball.
Journalist: “But you still want to leave?”
Cato: “Yes, of course! I want to go home to my family.”

And for all of the island’s attractions, this isn’t a place the inmates say they want to return to soon.


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1. This is a summer vacation camp. True or false? Where is this place? What is it?

2. Do the prisons only stay in prison cells? Describe the activities here. What do the inmates do?

3. Are the accommodations spartan? What is the living conditions like there? Do the prisoners like it?

4. Why is the prison comfortable and “luxurious”? Is it effective?

5. There are armed guards and guard dogs on patrol. Is this right or wrong?

6. “You are so free, but you are not free, you know what I mean?” What did the prisoner mean by this?

6. The prisoners want to escape. Is this correct or incorrect? What will happen to them if they try to escape?
A. Have you or your friends ever been to prison?

B. Describe the conditions of the prison in your city.

C. I would like to stay in the Bastoy Prison in Norway. Yes or no?

D. What should governments, the justice system and society do?

E. What might happen in the future?

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