The Prisons of Norway




adult slightly population
jail rest (2) responsibility
repeat humane small/smaller/smallest
unique approach raises the question
vast achieve incarceration
pine spotlight punishment
lock up blueberry rehabilitation
greet campus handshake
respect smuggle meet/met/met
inmate on-the-go doing time
convict cell block feel/felt/felt (2)
cell (2) laundry routine (2)
key (2) block (3) choose/chose/chosen
lock mass (2) maximum
cozy train (2) private (2)
justice turn (2) good/better/best
craft studio (2) big/bigger/biggest
trust handle (2) take/took/taken
ban available state-of-the-art
prison overnight knife/knives
extend pretty (2) conservative
critic liberal (2) go to far (2)
victim screen (2) progress (2)
luxury commit sentence (2)
admit security human being






The United States has more than 2.2 million adults locked up in its prisons and jails. That’s only slightly smaller than the population of Houston.

Many of the inmates are repeat offenders, which raises the age-old question of what we want out of incarceration: punishment or rehabilitation so that prisoners do on return.

One Scandinavian country is using a unique approach to achieve the latter.

As part of our week-long series here at NBC News looking at criminal justice reform.

Kelly Cobiella travels to Norway for our Sunday Spotlight.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

In this vast forest of pine and blueberry, is what some call the world’s most humane prison.

New inmates are greeted the way I was, with a handshake.

Kelly Kobie, Reporter: “Nice to meet you.”

Drug smugglers, murderers, rapists — all doing time in a maximum security prison — that feels like a college campus.

Kelly Kobie, Reporter: “This is home?”
Carlson, Inmate: “This is home, yeah.”

Carlson was convicted of killing a man in Brazil. This is his cell block with a full kitchen, big screen TV and laundry room.

Kelly Kobie, Reporter: “Do you have a key to your own cell?”
Carlson, Inmate: “Yeah, everybody has their own key.”

He and the rest of the prisoners are locked in over night.

The rest of the time, they choose when to lock their door to their cozy single-bed cells, with a TV and a private bathroom.

Carlson, Inmate: “I used to be in a prison in Brazil. And there was a cell just a Little bit bigger than this — and there used to be 50 people in the same room.”

The point here: to turn criminals into good neighbors.

Journalist: “Always have coffee on-the-go. Thank you.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

“Rehabilitation” says the prison governor “starts on Day One.”

Are Hoidal, Halden Prison Governor: “We take the freedom from them. Here we try to help them to be a better citizen.”

Inmates have a normal workweek, giving them routine and responsibilities, training them to be car mechanics and graphic designers in state of the art studios.

Learning skills like restaurant crafts where they are trusted to handle knives can help them get obs on the outside.

They have weekends off; a house available for overnight visits with their family.

Richard, Musician Inmate: “Welcome to the Criminal Records.”

Richard is studying music; he’s doing time for murder and served his first four years in Swedish prison.

Richard, Musician Inmate: “I was hateful of myself, because I came from a very hard prison system. I really hated the guards and the Guards hated us.

Do I feel like a different person now? Yeah, I do.”

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Here, guards and tutors work side-by-side with inmates, playing chess or simply going for a walk. It is all about building relationships and trust — even with a prison boss.

Journalist: “He looks so happy.”
Are Hoidal, Halden Prison Governor: “It was an inmate who painted this.”

There are cameras and locks, but no weapons, and nearly half of the guards are women!

Journalist: “Do you feel safe?”
Tonje Culbertson, Prison Officer Supervisor: “Yes, I do.”
Journalist: “Why?!?
Female Prison Guard: “Well, we get to know all the prisoners very well, and we are with them all the time.”


.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Norway’s model isn’t cheap: $93,000 per inmate, per year — three times more than The US ($31,000).

But only 20% of inmates re-offend after two years. In the US., it is 60%.

There is no death penalty and life sentences were banned in 1981.

Even mass murder Andres Brevik who killed 77 People in the 2011 attack was given a maximum sentence of 21 Years. Thought that’s extendable.

Conservative critics say Norway has gone too far.

Christian Tybring Gjedde, Progress Party Politician: “What about the victims? The victims have to feel injustice. The people who committed these crimes live in luxury.”

Journalist: “If someone were to say to you, ‘It’s a pretty luxurious lifestyle.”

Prison Inmate: “Most don’t get to see outside The world for a long time; outside the wall.”

But these men admit they have been helped here.

Prison Inmate: “Before I think more like a criminal . . . but now I start to think more like normal guy, you know?

Are Hoidal, Halden Prison Governor: “If we treat an inmate like an animal, he’ll be an animal. If you treat him with respect, he’ll respect you back. He’s a human being; you treat him like human being.”

Lessons here many believe could extend beyond these prison walls. From Sunday Today, Kelly Cobiella, Halden Prison, Norway.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Crime, Criminal. Is the United States a very safe and law abiding nation?

Burglary, Theft. Holden Prison is located in the mountains of the middle of the middle of America. True or false?

Robbery. Are the inmates at Holden Prison embezzlers, bribers and other corrupt officials?

Assault. The prison conditions are very austere and spartan. Is this right or wrong?

Arrest, Arraignment. Do the prisoners mostly clean up the prison compound and sit in their cells?

Lawyer, Attorney. Are the prison inmates and guards mean, angry and tough?

Prosecution, Defense. Is the purpose or goal of the Norwegian justice and penal system to punish or rehabilitate criminals? Does the Norwegian system work? Is it successful?

Judge, Jury. Every agrees with Norway’s penal and justice system. Is his correct or incorrect?
Verdict, Guilty, Innocent. I have been in jail or prison. Yes or no? Do you know anyone who has been in jail or prison?

Sentencing. Describe the prison conditions in your city or province.

Jail, Prison, Correctional Facility. What do you think of Norway’s penal and justice system? I agree completely with it, I basically agree with it, in the middle, yes-and-no, it depends, it’s both good and bad, it has advantages and disadvantages, I disagree with it, or I am completely against it?

Probation, Parole, Release. What could or should parents, teachers, community leaders, schools, the government do?

Half-Way Home, Transition Home. What might happen in the future?

Comments are closed.