U.S.A. vs Norway:
punishing or rehabilitating?

The debate around punishing or rehabilitating the deteinees in prisons...

Did you know that, according to the Business Insiders’ website, Norway has one of the lowest incarceration ratio in the world. The incarceration rate is 75 per 100,000 people and the recidivism rate is only 20%. In comparison, in the US, the rate is 707 per 100,000 people and the recidivism rate is 76.6%.

We can ask ourselves, what makes Norway so special then? The answer is very simple, Norway’s not special, it’s the prisons there that are unique. Indeed, in comparison with the U.S, where solitary confinement is in place, which causes major mental problems to the detainees, Norway doesn’t view its detainees this way. The mentality is to prepare them to reintegrate the society with the best tools possible. To do so, Norway has put a lot of money in some kind of vacation centers.

In Bastoy, for example, the largest low-security prison in Norway, is actually a small island village with 120 inmates. No gates, no guards, no violence, even if there are murderers, drug dealers etc. This place has the objective to prove to the world, especially the United States that punishing detainees by isolating them doesn’t help anything. It makes things worse. Like we’ve seen before, the statistics show that Norway has proven its point, but the problem is still present around the world, especially in the U.S. Indeed, in this country, according to the American Friends Service Committee’s website, 64% of the detainees in solitary confinement became mentally ill.

In conclusion, we can ask ourselves : is it better for us to ignore a major problem, pretending that it’s their fault and that they shouldn’t have broken the law in the first place; or taking a step back and realizing that we will, eventually, have to share our world again with most of these individuals. And we can either live side-by-side with mentally ill, violent and disturbed people, or with grownups who are ready to reintegrate the society.

Sources :

STERBENZ,Christina. “Why Norway’s prison system is so successful”. BusinessInsider.com BusinessInsider. 14 December 2014. Web. 28 April 2015

The Bastoy Fengsel. 2012. Web. 28 April 2015

“Solitary Confinement facts”. AFSC Organisation. American Friends Service Comitee. 25 May 2013. Web. 28 April 2015

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