Norway again once released from prison. In Norwegian
Norway has one of the most appealing prisons in the world as well as a very low crime and reoffending rate. But are Norwegian prisons really so successful in terms of the inmate’s quality of life? Prisons in Norway have a lot of controversy surrounding them because of how humane and even hotel like the living conditions are. Some would argue that living conditions that are too comfortable may encourage prisoners to reoffend due to the fact that the prison conditions may even be better than their own home. On the other hand, if the inmates are treated like human beings and not animals then they will see that they are respected and will learn from others behavior. Within this essay there will be ethical and ideological viewpoints. The reason I have chosen not to focus on faith or religion surrounding this topic, is because there isn’t much available information that’s anything to do with the norwegian prison system that would be an aspect of why they are succeeding so well.From an ethical viewpoint, in Norway they believe that when someone commits a crime, it isn’t only the rules and punishments that matter, the person’s personal life will also be affected in many ways. This is why Norway uses a theory called restorative justice. Ex criminal, Christer Karlsson believes that it is right to treat criminals humanely because if you treat them with disrespect then they won’t learn from their mistakes and won’t grow/change as a person and could make the same mistakes again once released from prison. In Norwegian prisons they recognize “the inmates have done bad things, but they are not bad people.” This shows that the prisons are taking into consideration that these people have done something unacceptable but also realises that they have to help these people from making the same mistakes again. Once again from an ethical stance but this time looking at it on a larger scale, the US has very different opinions to how it is appropriate for prisoners to be treated. In a documentary in which James Conway, a retired superintendent from Attica Correctional Facility in New York is being shown the ways Nordic prisons are set up, he is extremely shocked at the majority of prisons he sees. “I’m having a hard time believing that I’m in a prison”. This suggests that this high security prison, Halden, in comparison to the one he worked at in New York is extremely more indulgent. “Who cares how they feel” implies that Conway doesn’t believe it’s right to be valuing inmates feelings or thoughts just because they have commited a crime. When you look at images comparing US high security prisons to Halden, a high security prison in Norway, there are very obvious differences. The images show how little some, if not all prisons in the US care about the comfort of the inmates because they feel it’s right to give the inmates no respect as they have committed a crime. In Norway their ideologies around prisons and the way inmates should be treated is based a lot on their ethics and what they believe is right or wrong. To help rehabilitate the prisoners, they treat them with respect and trust so that the prisoners will behave in a similar manner. The prisons also offer education training and skill building programmes to help them for later life once their sentence is over. This once again shows that the prisons care for the wellbeing and futures of the current inmates, trying to set them up for success rather than feeling as though it’s not their problem to deal with. You can see using the statistics that Norwegian prisons are certainly doing very well despite the ‘softness’ of it. These statistics taken from 2014 show that Norway has a very low reoffending rate at only 20%. This alone is impressive but when you compare it to the US’s 76.6% of prisoners being arrested within 5 years of being released, you can see what a big difference there is.On the topic of how America’s prisons are quite unsuccessful, it is their ideologies that have created their prison issues. They have the belief and ideas that these criminals can never change or change their lives around and therefore don’t have rehabilitation as their main focus. Lots of prisons in the US also have very economic ideologies. One example of how money based they are is how inmates at the Oklahoma County Jail are expected to pay for their prison stay even though it obviously the inmates don’t want to be locked up inside a prison for however long. Once released, the prisoners are sent a bill containing the cost of their stay. The former inmates will most probably not have whatever the amount of money it is that they’re required to pay. This is another example showing how the prisons don’t care about the prisoners and in this case seem to purely care about the money aspect. Another example of some prisons in the US caring mainly about money aspects is how some prisons are now charging for inmates to skype call with their loved ones rather than allowing the free visits. These calls cost around $13 and often are faulty anyway. One specific prison implementing this new rule is Jefferson Parish correctional centre. Despite this, Lucius Couloute who is a research associate at the Prison Policy Initiative, estimates that there are probably around 600 US prisons now using this method of ‘visitation’. Norris Henderson, an ex convict said, “We should be moving toward more human contact and people connecting with other people, not less. When you move away from that, it is easy to dehumanize.”. This is once again showing that these prisons don’t put the inmates wellbeing first as their number one priority.Based on my ethical views, I would definitely agree with Norway on what they feel is right, in this case the restorative justice system. Due to the way I have been brought up and nurtured, I have been taught through my parents and also schools that every human deserves a second chance and that we should allow for that and help them to succeed rather than purely punishing them. I would say that my ideologies correspond with my ethics in the way that I feel we should be setting up systems like restorative justice to in this case, really help the prisoners build a better life for themselves. I have the idea in my head that we shouldn’t just stand back and let these prisoners rot so to say, but to really connect with them so that it is actually possible to develop that trust which will later lead onto helping them in the future. In conclusion, I would definitely say that I agree with the Norwegian prison system over some/most of the US prisons. I feel that why should we not try to help these ‘bad people’ become better as every country will want their society to be better. I also strongly feel that the US prison systems that are trying to gain a lot more money through the inmates are disgraceful as prison should be a place for people to learn how to behave better in society rather than just being used for the private companies own profits. Overall through all of this you can see that Norway and US prison viewpoints are very different, where Norway focuses more on rehabilitation and creating a better society which is why especially Halden prison is known by many as being the most humane prison in the world. On the other hand many US prisons goals are just money based which displays no sense of care towards the inmates.