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Handcuffs in Norway equals a trip to the world’s nicest prison

Elif Geris

What the world's nicest prison has to offer

Norway’s Bastoy Prison houses murder, rape, and drug trafficking convicts

A pair of handcuffs has a positive connotation when they accompany a stay at Norway’s Bastoy Prison – what is being considered the “world’s nicest prison.” This is especially true when the sentence served is for such crimes as murder, rape and heroin trafficking.  The world’s nicest prison is located on an island, lined with abundant trees and greenery.

At the world’s nicest prison, each inmate has an individual room key, no uniform and – no guard. The world’s nicest prison is equipped with a beach, fishing gear, tennis courts and even a sauna.

All these luxuries are in an effort to lessen the likelihood of repeated crime positive mentalities. Jan Petter Vala, 42, strangled his girlfriend with his bare hands and is serving his 10-year sentence at the world’s nicest prison. After watching a cow give birth to its calf, Vala emotionally told his family “that I’m going to be a dad.”

In response to comments regarding the comfortable lifestyle of the world’s nicest prison’s inmates, Arne Kvernvik Nilsen, the prison’s governor, former minister and psychologist said, “We should reduce the risk of reoffending, because if we don’t, what’s the point of punishment, except for leaning toward the primitive side of humanity?”

According to a recent study released by the Pew Center on the States, about 43 percent of U.S. inmates reoffend within two years of their discharge. At the world’s nicest prison, however, only 20% of those released reoffend within two years.

In Norway, once inmates are released, there are post-release programs to impact them into living a more positive and crime-free life. The goal in Norway is to make an actual change in inmates’ behavior.

“The key is not that much what happens in prison but what happens when the men are released,” Irvin Waller, president of the International Organization for Victim Assistance, said.

Rather than striving to punish the inmates, the only punishment at the world’s nicest prison is to isolate the inmates from a free society.

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