This is called the Halden Prison. It’s the World’s Most Humane Prison. Prisoners eat like Princes. One of the afternoons, recently, homemade orange sorbet and slices of tropical fruit lined the table.
Prison guards must not maltreat them. In fact they frequently eat meals and play sports with prisoners. Their health is intact. Doctors, dentists, gynecologists etc are always around.
They learn to play musical instruments and record their own songs. They compete on Norway’s version of American Idol
Every 10 to 12 cells share a kitchen and living room, where prisoners prepare their evening meals and relax after a day of work. None of the windows at Halden have bars.
There’s also a recording studio with a professional mixing board. In-house music teachers — who refer to the inmates as “pupils,” never “prisoners” — work with their charges on piano, guitar, and more.
Norway’s prison guards undergo two years of training at an officers’ academy and enjoy an elevated status, even compared with their peers in the U.S. and Britain. Their official job description says they must motivate the inmate “so that his sentence is as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible.”
Exercise is mandatory every morning, and of course they have professional and well trained instructors.
The maximum sentence in Norway, even for murder, is 21 years. Since most inmates will eventually return to society, prisons mimic the outside world as much as possible to prepare them for freedom. At Halden prison, rooms have en-suite bathrooms with ceramic tiles, mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs.
Halden’s architects preserved trees across the 75-acre site to obscure the 20-ft.-high security wall that surrounds the perimeter, in order to minimize the institutional feel and, in the words of one architect, to “let the inmates see all of the seasons.”