Is Norway insane? 21 years for killing 77 people?...Well,yeah. But it’s cold for all those 21 years.
I'm guessing that a Norwegian murderer will be cold only if he wants to be.
Norway's unrepentant mass killer, Anders Behring Breivik, is now under arrest. And he should count himself lucky for -- if entirely undeserving of -- a penal system in that country that is among the cushiest in the world. There's no capital punishment, and the longest jail term allowed is 21 years (a caveat: if a prisoner is deemed to still be a threat, his sentence can be extended in five-year blocks indefinitely, though it's highly unlikely, according to Norwegian officials). In Norway, rehabilitation is the guiding principle, not punishment -- a somewhat difficult notion to swallow given the gravity and callousness of his crimes.
"Both society and the individual simply have to put aside their desire for revenge, and stop focusing on prisons as places of punishment and pain," one Norwegian prison official told the Daily Mail. "Depriving a person of their freedom for a period of time is sufficient punishment in itself without any need whatsoever for harsh prison conditions."
Norway's newest jail may hold rapists and murderers, but Halden Prison -- the country's second largest and most secure facility -- looks more like a posh sleepaway camp. In fact, architects say they purposely tried to avoid an "institutional feel." When it opened in 2010, some news accounts called it the "most humane" prison in the world.
Indeed, one of the many perks at Halden is flat-screen televisions in inmates' rooms. There's no HBO, though, so reruns of Oz and The Wire are contraband. Still, prisoners get private cells with mini-fridges and large windows to let in more sunlight. Here, then, is a quick tour of what luxuries may await Breivik behind bars. (That's a figure of speech, of course: There are no iron bars at Halden.)
Prisoners spend a lot of time out of their cells; exercise is encouraged. And in Halden, not only is there clean air but personal trainers. Here, a comely woman coach jogs alongside an inmate in the prison yard. According to Time magazine, the prison is spread over 75 acres "of gently sloping forest. To avoid an institutional feel, exteriors are not concrete but made of bricks, galvanized steel and larch; the buildings seem to have grown organically from the woodlands."
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison? Please. At Halden, the inmates can form their own band. And what's more, they can lay down an album in the prison's professional recording studio.
The well-stocked library at Halden contains not only books but magazines, CDs, and DVDs. What? No Crime and Punishment audiobook?
Inmates share common kitchens and living rooms. Some common areas are designated as places where both inmates and guards can meet and mingle -- or, you know, just hang out.
The prison boasts a state-of-the-art gym, complete with a rock-climbing wall. No word yet on whether there's a class on tunneling.
Guards don't carry guns and are encouraged to be outgoing and friendly toward the inmates -- they eat together and play sports in mixed teams to create a sense of family, according to officials. The Longest Yard this ain't.
No gold teeth among Halden's inmates. Not with free dental checkups.
An inmate in his private bathroom -- one of many amenities that make Halden feel more like a college dorm than a prison.
Nothing says rehabilitation like rhythm. Here, prisoners and their instructor get down during a music class.
An inmate learns to ride a unicycle in the prison gym. Seriously.
Dolk, a Norwegian Banksy-style graffiti artist, was commissioned to create art for the prison -- at a price tag of $1 million.