A Prison in Norway



lose human right (3)
jog blessing effective
jail punish law-breaker
fridge consider sentence
trail humane approach (2)
deer facility penitentiary
cell attempt stunned
input inmate altogether
riot loser you name it
staff roughly break out
strict frankly tranquil
limit effective







In Norway some criminals may lose their right to freedom but not jogging trails, salmon steaks and flat-screen televisions.

$252 million in the making, one jail resting in a tranquil forest is host to law-breakers in conditions many would consider a blessing rather than a punishment.

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Koamal, Prisoner: “And here is my closet, with a fridge and everything.”

Koamal has been living here for nearly four years, getting an education, working as a car mechanic — and serving his fifteen-and-a-half sentence in jail.

Koamal: “I wake up in the morning, take a shower, have breakfast, go to our jobs or school. Finish school, come back, have dinner, relax a little bit, you know it’s like a normal life. It’s just that we are back against a wall.”

This is Halden, one of the most humane prisons in the world. Built in 2010, it’s an example of Norway’s new approach to penitentiary facilities.

Here the roughly 250 prisoners it houses cook for themselves and staff members with beef, salmon and deer steaks among the items on the menu, take walks in the park, pray and make art, do outdoor and indoor sports.

Prison Officer: “We can have like you see here badminton or we can play some football, maybe volleyball. It’s going to be a good place to come to relax, get out from their cells you know.”

Halden has a library and a school for those who want to continue their education they were getting before going to jail, or getting a new one altogether.

Literature, history, chemistry, math, physics…you name it. All are taught to the inmates.

Ragnhild Dahllauritz: “You’re being locked in a room and that’s where you’re going to stay for the next ten years. To continue to be humans, they need input.”

Inmates also have access to a photoshop, grocery store, workshop and a mechanics shop.

And even…my personal favorite: a sound studio.

Lasse Andersson, Halden Prison Inspector: “Most of them didn’t have a system in their lives. They were losers in school. Losers in working life and everything. They didn’t have anything.”

“And they come in here and learn.”

So far the prison hasn’t seen one riot or an attempt to break out. And when we were inside, I couldn’t see why anyone would want to.

Frankly I’m stunned. It’s going to take time for me to process what we’ve seen here today.

But what’s clear is that even though this is one of the most humane prisons in the world, it still is a place to punish criminals, with strict rules, security and limitations.

And since it’s been operating for only a few years, right now it’s too early to say how effective this new penitentiary format is.

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1. Describe a typical daily routine (for Koamal).

2. What kind of cells (jail rooms) do they have? What is inside?

3. Do they eat bland food?

4. Can the prisoners go outside? What can they do outside?

5. What are some of the activities they participate in?

6. According to the prison inspector, what kind of life did the convicts have before they came to prison?

7. They have problems with the prisoners. The prisoners behave dangerously. True or false?
A. I have been in prison. I have served a sentence in prison. Is this true or false? Do you know anyone who has been in jail?

B. What are prisons in your city like? Are they similar to Norwegian prisons?

C. I would like to stay in a Norwegian prison. Do you agree? Some or many people (in the world) would like to be in a Norwegian jail. Yes or no?

D. What do you think about the prison system in Norway? Do you agree or disagree with their approach? Would it work in your country?

E. What will happen in the future regarding the penal system?

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