Wednesday, 26 February 2020

How Norway designed a more humane prison

A better way to design prison architecture could mean more comfort, better views from the window and more walking spaces for exercise. Norway has fascinating buildings. Halden Prison in Norway looks kind of like a comfortable hotel.

It has no barbed wire, no cramped cells and more outdoor walking spaces. The plan to create a more humane prison focuses on architecture that makes people "feel better." Looking at boring walls every day could feel like a punishment for some people.

Most prisons in the world have everything inside a single building. This would make it quicker for inmates to move around, but the design is "visually unappealing." To add to that, tight spaces could create more conflicts.

Halden is kind of like a campus design. Inmates move from one building to another - this creates a pleasant exercise walk. More open spaces and lots of windows create the illusion that the place is not a prison. It is also nice to have construction materials reduce noise and take advantage of natural light. Materials like cork and wood can muffle disturbing noises.

Halden’s design style is expensive. It can be implemented in places with good social support systems, like Western Europe and Scandinavia. More prisons could be like this in the future. This style of building creates more direct contact between inmates and guards. This results in better security and less violence.

The GDP per capita of Norway in 2019 was $75,452, $6,033 less than in 2018, when it was $81,485.

The economy of Norway is a developed mixed economy with state-ownership in strategic areas. The country has a very high standard of living compared with other European countries. Norway has a strongly integrated welfare system. Norway's modern manufacturing and welfare system rely on a financial reserve produced by exploitation of natural resources, particularly North Sea oil.


  1. Norway's prison system seems pretty successful. In Norway, fewer than 4,000 of the country's 5 million people were behind bars as of August 2014. Norway's incarceration rate is just 75 per 100,000 people, compared to 707 people for every 100,000 people in the USA.

    Norway also has one of the lowest recidivism (the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend) rates in the world at 20%. The US has one of the highest: 76.6% of prisoners are re-arrested within 5 years.

    Norway also has a relatively low level of crime compared to the USA. Few citizens in Norway go to prison, and those who do usually go only once. This system probably rehabilitates prisoners better.

  2. From a Swede who was incarcerated in Sweden. The Scandinavian prisons keep most of the prisoners in solitude. Scandinavians can handle the solitude, but he said many prisoners from cultures with less solitude become emotionally troubled and commit suicide. Incarceration rates are low because criminals tend to jump borders as needed. Lastly, recidivism is low because foreign prisoners are deported upon release. Don't know if that is still true today.