Durance Not So Vile in Norway

Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer sends his translation from an article in VG.no. about the utopian prison, Bastøy. Our translator includes his own observation:

This article gives you a good insight into the prevailing mentality found among the Norwegian elite. It’s a proper example of logic and reasoning from this northern ‘la-la land’.

Notice that the so-called ‘experts’ are very positive towards the ideas promoted in this article. It’s also worth keeping in mind the Norwegian TV documentary Hjernevask, which brilliantly exposed how far removed from reality a lot of these ‘researchers’ and ‘experts’ are.

Maybe even Breivik will be transferred to Bastøy sometime in the future?

Oh, by the way: “Bastøy is an island surrounded by idyllic scenery in the Oslo fjord.”

The Observer also sent along a link to this video about life on Norway’s version of Alcatraz. It was uploaded on MRCtv in March 2011, when Breivik was still in the planning stages:

The person who uploaded this video is puzzled:

This is just beyond parody. I mean the idiot running the place literally says “We had a chainsaw murderer here on the island. Eventually he was allowed to work in the forest with a chainsaw”. What is wrong with the people of Norway?

Well, beyond a bad case of terminal self-righteousness, Norway is a very small, very isolated and homogeneous country. Its small size and its oil wealth permit it to run a variety of experiments in social psychopathology, whether it be in education, healthcare, or parenting. These utopian schemes are neither possible nor practical in a huge, polyglot federation like the United States – much as our leftists want to resurrect Rousseau here, also. For our polarization and public strife let us be thankful.

It was the ‘compassion’ of Norway’s elites that led them to foist upon their own citizens hordes of unassimilated resentful immigrants. Dealing with these foreigners themselves was never part of their plan; things might never have been exposed had not Breivik’s murderous acting-out upon their own children brought home so forcefully an unintended consequence of ignorant, arrogant do-goodism.

And now, on to the paean to Norwegian penology from the perspective of VG.no:

Here Mr. Sandberg is shown a video of prisoners having a barbecue: “This is a concept that we should embrace.”

Parliament (VG Nett) — Parliamentarian politician Mr. Per Sandberg of the FrP (the progress party) believes that the open prison on Bastøy is a concept that the correctional services in Norway should embrace.

Last Tuesday VG wrote about the inmates at the prison at Bastøy who have built their own little society with all the institutions and recreational activities that can be found on the outside.

The TV channel MAX followed the lives of the inmates over a three day period in the TV documentary “Insider”.

The FrP and Mr. Sandberg have been staunch supporters of tougher prison conditions, but he smiles when he sees the prisoners at Bastøy having a barbecue.

“I think it is very positive. Here we have a situation where optimism is created and the criminals are given a chance to adjust to normal life. Statistics also show that these types of prison conditions lead to fewer escape attempts and fewer repeat offenders — and the community benefit from this,” Sandberg says to VG Nett.

He believes that the prison on Bastøy is ideal for criminals convicted of serious crimes.

“Here the prisoners enjoy a high degree of freedom, but at the same time they are isolated from the rest of society. I believe that most people want serious criminals to be mentally prepared for life in a law-abiding society,” Sandberg says.

“The way criminals serve their time should be tailored to each individual offender, but I think we should focus more on open prisons,” he adds.

“Overwhelmingly positive”

Shadow Minister of Justice from the Conservative Party (Høyre) André Oktay Dahl can reveal that there is a broad consensus in Parliament for such criminal rehabilitation centers and that the prison on Bastøy is an example to follow.

“We are primarily concerned with the fact that those who return to society must decide to become law-abiding citizens. The entire Parliament is positive to the concept behind Bastøy, with the assumption that the prisoners are individuals that are to be reintroduced back into Norwegian society upon their release,” Dahl says.

Lack of space in Norwegian prison

Overcrowding of prisons has been an issue in Norway for many years — especially in the eastern part of the country. Dahl believes the government’s goal of lowering the number of re-offenders may be hampered by capacity problems.

“The main challenge is that Norwegian prisons are getting more crowded, fewer prison guards are graduating from the prison academy and existing prison guards are leaving their jobs. As a consequence it will be harder to implement the government’s plan to reduce the number of re-offenders. However we need to implement measures similar to those found on Bastøy in order to achieve this,” Dahl says.

In the government report “Punishment that works” — on prison policies from 2007, one of the goals is to eliminate prison queues.

This will be achieved through a capacity plan, according to representative of the Justice and Emergency Services, Paul Lønseth.

“This plan will be implemented within a month or two. We do have capacity issues, but this also means that the police are doing a good job. Prison facilities have increased in number in recent years, but we have also seen a dramatic increase in foreign prisoners. We need to have a master plan in order to face these challenges,” Lønseth says.

“Do you believe that foreign criminals are attracted by Norwegian prison conditions?”

“I don’t believe the criminals think along those lines — I believe that they primarily focus on the risks of getting caught and losing the proceeds of their criminal endeavors,” Lønseth says.

A parliamentary politician from the conservatives, Mr. Dahl however believes that softer prison conditions like those found on Bastøy can result in criminals not seeing prisons as a sufficient deterrent.

“It’s a problem that prisons don’t work as a deterrent for some criminals. It may even attract more foreign criminals, so I await the announced capacity plan, which will hopefully reduce prison queues — and ensure that the criminals receive a proper reaction from society,” Dahl says.

“Bastøy is the right answer”

The philosophy behind the new approach is supported by Jane Dullum, researcher at the Department of Criminology at the University of Oslo.

“I think this is a good crime prevention policy. The most important thing is that the criminals are able to adapt to a law-abiding society. The government should therefore invest more heavily in open prisons à la Bastøy — this is definitely the way to go,” Dullum says.

The question remains, “to go where, exactly?” Hard to say when you’re trotting so hard down the Road of Good Intentions.

15 thoughts on “Durance Not So Vile in Norway

  1. Let me put myself into the shoes of any Norwegian woman who has been gang raped in broad daylight, with dozens of onlookers sauntering by as I scream for help. What I’m seeing is this: My rapists get a slap on the wrist for raping me, because it’s their culture, so they can’t help it, and then they get housed in a pleasant community of like-minded criminals, while I, the victim, must find new quarters, because the mostly-Muslim neighborhood I have lived in since before it became mostly-Muslim, is now actively seeking my death.
    If I am properly indoctrinated, I would be okay with this.
    I don’t like Norwegian footwear.

  2. At first read, one gets the impression that this was a Monty Python comedy routine.

    On further consideration, such prison conditions will only serve to encourage criminals of all stripes to continue their criminal way of life. Knowing that if they get caught they go to a resort, to rest, recharge and prepare for their next crime spree.

    However the elites are not the only culpable party. The rank and file Norwegians are to blame for voting in these crazed elites and not standing up against the Muslim thugs that infest their cities and neighborhoods.

    Running and hiding isn’t a option anymore. Not when the Muslims know that native Norwegians won’t fight or even voice condemnation for their heinous acts against people and society.

  3. “Prison facilities have increased in number in recent years, but we have also seen a dramatic increase in foreign prisoners. We need to have a master plan in order to face these challenges,” Lønseth says.”

    So Norway, over the last few decades, has chosen to import a record number of foreigners unto its idyllic shores, to what actual benefit to Norway itself remains unknown.

    And now after a dramatic increase in foreign inmates in Norways prisons Paul Lønseth is scratching his head in search of a “Master Plan” to address this challenge.

    Maybe… stop importing Third World immigrants into Norway? Just a thought.

  4. It sounds incredible

    However, I think the philosophy behind this is that there are criminals and criminals.

    Some may not be criminals by profession, and happened to become a criminal due to circumstances. Some of these may not be a danger to the population. At the same time might start on a career if exposed to the heavy professional criminals on a daily basis.

    The idea is in general, that a prisoner is paying for the crime by prison. On the day when the debt has been payed, he is going back into society, and hopefully prepared to act as a normal citizen, by living “a normal life” at a place like Bastøy island.

    At the same time, the crime already committed, can not be undone, so this way of thinking is that society is better off with a prisoner mentally prepared for society, than one who will have the potential to commit a crime at any time back in society.

    This is therapy in practise.

    The prisoners have to apply to get to Bastøy. They are being picked on the basis of their behaviour in their prison history.

    We tend to think that this is paradise. But when you’re bound to stay in “paradise” for years, it’s still a prison.

    One worker explains that a prisoner at Bastøy had never in his life respected life as such. Once he had managed to save a calf in the womb of the dying cow. This meant a significant change in his life as he was continually reminded that he had saved this particular calf’s life.

  5. History has never witnessed such a huge amount of insanity packed in such a small country. Even Nero was not as insane as they are. The government has chosen national suicide, and the lack of conspicuous resistence makes one think that the people willingly follow their suicide leaders to the slaughterhouse. Sometimes one think that extreme well-being and welfare are the real danger to a nation, and war and hardship help it to preserve its identity and strengh. The book “Lords of Chaos” by Michael Moynihan perfectly depicts to what extremes young people go when they swim in welfare and security. What they have been prived of for decades, they get it now condensed. Very sad.

  6. The really central question is whether a facility of this nature can be an adequate preparation for the rigors of genuine civilized life, in which people must produce the goods they would enjoy. Norway may be, as a society, currently insulated from that need by wealth derived from natural resources. This bodes very ill for the day in which the international economic situation does not continue to allow such effortless indulgences.

    On the other hand, given that the laws in Norway are originated by those actively seeking the destruction of the Norwegian people, perhaps it is all to the good that trespass against those laws is not being punished too harshly.

    Chiu Chun-Ling.

  7. Where, oh where, are the good and sound MEN of Norway who will put an end to all of this crap? Do they exist anymore? Have they all run away? Have they all been castrated by Norway’s feminists? Are they completely brainwashed by their leftist elites? Do they live in a constant state of fear of Norway’s recent immigrants? Will the native men of Norway ever grow hair on their chest again and take their country back from leftist elites and foreigners?

  8. Also, deport criminals of foreign ancestry, along with their families.  Recidivism ceases to matter (to Norwegians) if the criminals are elsewhere.

    Cracking down on polygamy would help also.  Paternity testing on every newborn would detect this immediately, and the polygamists would find it uncomfortable to remain.

  9. This is what you get when you let psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals run the business. What about the concept of punishment? That seems entirely lost on these professional care-bears.

  10. Rui: pleas let me cite the great Fjordman.

    “The Norwegian left-wing author Torgrim Eggen warns against “race wars” brought about by mass immigration yet continues to support it. Questioned about what we can do to avoid this scenario he states: “That’s a very
    stupid question to ask to an author. This presupposes that I want everybody to be happy, have a good time and don’t have any problems. If so, what do they want me to write about?”

    I will give him credit for his honesty: This is the most frank admission I have seen of the fact that some people don’t WANT society to be harmonious; they think it’s boring. There is no worse fate for a self-professed
    intellectual than to live in a nation that is by and large prosperous, peaceful and well-functioning because
    nobody will care about his advice or follow his guidance, as is befitting a person of his intelligence.”

    These are the professionals who run the business.

  11. The prison system has ALWAYS been schizophrenic about its purpose – criminal punishment or criminal reformation or societal protection?

    The lack of clear purpose leads to failure to accomplish punishment, reformation or protection.


  12. I agree that it’s important to state the purpose of the prison and penitentiary system. If it’s mainly to punish than this is laughable. If the purpose is to reduce crime than – if the stats about the 10% recidivism rate are true – the Norwegians get much better results than anybody else. So maybe there’s no need for too much ideology and we should be pragmatic.

  13. Hey, if Torgrim Eggen thinks conflict and violence and suffering so cool, how about I go over there with a big sledge hammer and pound him into mincemeat?

    Oh, wait, I forgot. He’s a psychopath by proxy. He just wants to sit by and watch, enjoying the sight of vicious and crazy people harming one another. He thinks it will never blow out of control and affect his comfortable way of life.

  14. Yes 1389, you are right. Torgrim Eggen should and probably one day will reap the consequences of what he has helped to sow.

  15. The recidivism rates, impressive as they are, say more about how selective Bastøy is about who is admitted to their program than it does about the effectiveness of it. Given what they say about their inmate selection process, I take it that they accept prisoners that they believe to already have a very low probability of recidivism.

    It would be an interesting experiment to see if Bastøy could produce similar results without being so selective about their admissions…though in that case it would be a more pressing issue to see if such a prison could meaningfully function at all if it were not essentially a ‘treat’ for exceptionally good behavior.

    I personally don’t believe that prisons can ever function adequately as either punishment or character reformation. The punishment of losing one’s freedom affects most those who truly value responsibility for their own actions…not a characteristic of most criminals (or, when it is characteristic of many criminals, one seriously has to question the justice of the government). Meaningful character reformation is also best accomplished in a setting of real responsibility for one’s own actions rather than under the constant direction of others.

    Criminals should be punished with what they fear most…the natural consequences of their own actions. In my justice system, when you are convicted of a real crime (one that has real victims), you are tied up and left to the mercies of your victims. Whatever happens to you is an “act of God”.

    Very well, that’s a gross oversimplification. Each victim (or proxy of a victim unable to take part in the administration of justice) may only inflict harm on the guilty to the exact extent it was inflicted in the course of the original crime. Still, I like my simplification even though it is not quite right.

    The criminal would then be considered fully punished, and (if still alive) able to return to a situation of freedom where the real reformation of character (insofar as such a thing is possible at all) can take place with the understanding that one’s actions do have foreseeable consequences.

    Chiu Chun-Ling.

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