The very first clue that situations are done very in a different way on Bastoy prison island, which lies a few miles from the coast within the Oslo fjord, 46 miles south-east of Norway's capital, comes soon after I board the prison ferry. I am shocked slightly once the ferry operative who welcomed me aboard just moments earlier, with whom I am swapping small discuss the elements, all of a sudden discloses he's an amount prisoner – doing 14 years for drug smuggling. He notes my surprise, smiles, and will take off a thick glove before offering me his hands. "I am Petter, " he states.
Before he moved to Bastoy, Petter was at a higher-security prison for pretty much eight years. "Here, they provide us trust and responsibility, " he states. "They treat us like adults." I've not come here particularly to attract evaluations, but it is impossible to not consider how political figures and also the popular media would respond to an identical scenario in great britan.
You will find large variations backward and forward nations, obviously. Norwegian includes a population of slightly under 5 million, a twelfth from the UK's. It's less than 4Thousand criminals you will find around 84Thousand within the United kingdom. What really sets us apart may be the Norwegian attitude towards criminals. 4 years ago I had been asked into Skien maximum security prison, 20 miles north of Oslo. I'd heard tales about Norway's liberal attitude. Actually, Skien is really a concrete fortress as daunting just like any prison I've ever experienced and houses probably the most serious law-breakers in the united states. Lately it had been the temporary residence of Anders Breivik, the guy who massacred 77 individuals This summer 2011.
Regardless of the importance of the crimes, however, I discovered that losing liberty was all of the punishment they experienced. Cells had televisions, computer systems, integral showers and sanitation. Some criminals were segregated for a number of reasons, but because most offered time – anything to the 21-year maximum sentence (Norwegian doesn't have dying penalty or existence sentence) – these were offered education, training and talent-building programmes. Rather than wings and landings they resided in small "pod" towns inside the prison, restricting multiplication from the corrosive criminal prison subculture that rules typically designed prisons. The teacher described that prisons in Norwegian done exactly the same principle, that they thought was the main reason the nation had, at under 30%, the cheapest reoffending figures in Europe and under half the speed within the United kingdom.
Because the ferry forces with the freezing early-morning fog, Petter informs me he's appealing against his conviction. Whether it fails he'll be on Bastoy until his release date in 2 years' time. I request him what existence is much like around the island. "You will see, " he states. "It's like residing in a village, a residential area. Everyone needs to work. But we've spare time therefore we can perform some fishing, or perhaps in summer time we are able to go swimming from the beach. We all know we're criminals but ideas seem like people."
I wasn't sure what to anticipate on Bastoy. Numerous wide-eyed bloggers before me have variously referred to conditions to which the island's 115 criminals live as "cushy", "luxurious" and, that old chestnut, "just like a holiday camping". I am sceptical of these media reviews.An inmate repairs a bicycle. Photograph: Marco Di Lauro
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