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July 26, 2011

"Norway killer could be held in 'luxury prison'"

The title of this post is the headline of this report from The (UK) Telegraph, which starts this way: 

Anders Behring Breivik could be jailed in one of the world's most progressive prisons, where inmates enjoys cells equipped with flat screen televisions, minifridges and designer-style furniture.  Halden Fengsel prison was opened last by King Harald V and is home to some of Norway's most hardened criminals, including murderers and rapists.

The jail is spread over 75 acres of woodland just outside Oslo and facilities include a sound studio, jogging trails and a two-bedroom house separate from the main facility where convicts can stay with their families during overnight visits.

Guards move around the prison unarmed and often play sports or eat meals with the men they are tasked with watching.  Half of the prison staff are women, a policy based on research which shows a female presence induces a less aggressive atmosphere.

In a far cry from the brutalist set up of British or American prisons, there is even a "kitchen laboratory" where inmates can take specialist cooking courses.

Speaking at the opening of the jail last year, governor Are Hoidal said: "In the Norwegian prison system, there's a focus on human rights and respect.  We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people."

There is some evidence that the Norwegian approach to prison works, with only around 20 per cent of offenders ending up back behind bars within two years of release, compared to around half of British convicts. 

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July 26, 2011 at 06:44 PM | Permalink


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Countdown until someone claims this ludicrous treatment is appropriate because a US Supermax is inhumane...

This is not justice, I dare anyone to tell me how it is justice.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 26, 2011 7:42:27 PM

How about countdown until someone shows that this treatment is appropriate because IT WORKS! Oh wait....what about American vengeance?

Posted by: anon | Jul 26, 2011 8:42:31 PM

anon --

"Vengeance" is the Left's word for justice.

But really, please continue. The Left is so deluded it actually thinks that advertising a cushy prison for an utterly ruthless, multiple child killer ADVANCES its agenda. Hey, right, designer furniture. Honestly, I couldn't make this up.

Excellent. More than anything I can say, it will "advance" your agenda into its deserved oblivion.

Keep it up. Please!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 26, 2011 9:37:35 PM

That comment proves what is wrong with *politics* these days. So, if it were proven to work/be productive, you still wouldn't advocate it because it wouldn't "advance" your agenda or political party! Classic! My point was that such an imprisonment policy would be appropriate if it works. Your reply was on the subject of "advancing" a political agenda.

Please go on...the epitome of childish games that puts party before good policy (symptomatic of current debates).

Posted by: anon | Jul 26, 2011 10:58:01 PM

How does letting a mass murderer free make their justice system work?

How do you know it's their insane leniency that gives them low crime rates? Japan has the death penalty and life in prison and their crime rates are even lower. America's crime rates were extremely low in the 40's and we seemed to execute a criminal every day.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 27, 2011 12:28:18 AM

I bet there are a lot of inmates at that "luxury prison" who would be real glad to see this maniac show up there.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 27, 2011 1:36:11 AM

Mr. Bill blames the Left for the raving wingnut's mass murder.

Exploring the Right Wing Blogosphere
Rightbloggers Discover the Real Victims of Norway Mass Murderer Breivik: Themselves

Norway’s Mass Murderer Also Euro-Teabagger & Right-Wing Blog Wingnut

Fox News pairs Norway attacks with NYC Islamic center

Glenn Beck Figures Out Norway Shooter Is a Secret Liberal Terrorist

Norway should realize, quickly, how superior the United States is and mimic us before it is too late for them. Right?

Posted by: George | Jul 27, 2011 3:46:57 AM

This is like the post about the 21-year sentence. Although these things seem to exist in the Norwegian system, there is no evidence I have seen that there is actually any realistic possibility that *this defendant* (probably the worst criminal in Norwegian history?) will get such a lenient sentence or be sent to a cushy prison. But you throw it out there and everyone reacts with outrage over something that none of us has any reason to believe will in fact happen. Welcome to the internet, I guess. I expect better of this blog than such pointless provocations, though.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 27, 2011 11:20:26 AM

A mass murderer of innocent Norwegians will walk free and your response is that the Norwegians shouldn't adopt tougher sentencing for murderers because we have crazy bloggers and TV hosts? What does that stuff have to do with anything!?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 27, 2011 11:28:11 AM

Most journalists and legal analysts seem to agree he will receive a 21 year sentence at an extremely easy prison. And while there is very little anecdotal evidence that I can think of I can point to the case of Varg Vikernes, the Black Metal musician and convicted murderer. He was convicted of burning several historic churches and the murder of a band mate. He is also the prime suspect in other church arsons, one of which killed a firefighter. For these crimes he was sentenced to 21 years, the maximum sentence allowed. While at his Norwegian prison he released several albums recorded in the prison recording studio and was allowed to leave the prison for weekend furloughs. During one of the furloughs he fled and was later arrested at a roadblock in possession of an assault rifle and other military gear. Despite all this, he served just 15 years and was paroled in 2009.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 27, 2011 11:49:55 AM

Apparently, it's justice in Norway. Why do you care so much about how Norway governs itself?

Posted by: = | Jul 27, 2011 12:23:08 PM

@ =
If you don't care, why comment?

As for this being justice, a lot of Norewgians seem to disagree.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 27, 2011 12:58:56 PM

"A mass murderer of innocent Norwegians will walk free...."

In your propaganda mind. It won't work in this case because I don't think Norwegians are going to be as shock doctrine gullible.

Norway PM: "Answer to violence is more democracy"

Posted by: George | Jul 27, 2011 1:33:17 PM

because it seems like you were working yourself into a huff about something in which I assume you have no personal stake. It's not healthy. And you seem to be judging Norway by your standards or the standards of crime and punishment as determined by the US or its individual states. It's Norway's concern.

Posted by: = | Jul 27, 2011 1:40:31 PM

"Apparently, it's justice in Norway."


"Why do you care so much about how Norway governs itself?"

Norway and the US are similiar but not identical. The similiarities that are easy to spot obscure the differences.

A triviality, but nevertheless illuminating, is that the coach of the Norwegian mens national soccer team, Egil Olson, is a card carrying communist. Can you imagine Joe Paterno or Coach K or Phil Jackson or Vince Lombardi as a card carrying communist?

If Norwegians want to change their criminal justice system to take into account these atrocities, they will. We can approve or disapprove of any changes, but in the final analysis its none of our business.

Posted by: Fred | Jul 27, 2011 1:45:35 PM

Andy Martin is on to something with his hypernomia concept * and perhaps there is a epidemic.

* Winehouse, Breivik and Deadly Ideals

Posted by: George | Jul 27, 2011 2:12:02 PM

How does that happen? Here is the correct link.

Winehouse, Breivik and Deadly Ideals

Posted by: George | Jul 27, 2011 2:15:30 PM

In my mind? I read newspapers and this is the consensus. If you have some proof that he'll never walk free I'd like to hear it.

As for the Norway PM, he does not control his voters. It's the other way around.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Jul 27, 2011 11:39:36 PM

Fred --

"If Norwegians want to change their criminal justice system to take into account these atrocities, they will. We can approve or disapprove of any changes, but in the final analysis its none of our business."

Then I will take it that the views of foreigners and of foreign nations as to the wisdom or propriety of the American death penalty should be kept to themselves, since our system is none of their business. Is that correct?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 28, 2011 10:54:31 AM

George --

"Mr. Bill blames the Left for the raving wingnut's mass murder."

You wanna quote me on that? No? Well I guess not, since I never said it. Still, since you Lefties have conferred on yourselves the prerogative of making things up, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Still, George, you're generally better than that.

Just for the record: I blame the murder spree on the guy who did it, and blame the lack of an adequate penalty on a disconnect with reality. Now that reality has knocked on the door, this latter deficiency might be able to be remedied.

And just for my edification, what do think is the proper punishment for the killer? Twenty-one years? Ten? Five? Counseling? A good talking to? How about making a specific recommendation and then providing the analysis to defend it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 28, 2011 11:09:25 AM

Mr. Otis:

"Then I will take it that the views of foreigners and of foreign nations as to the wisdom or propriety of the American death penalty should be kept to themselves, since our system is none of their business. Is that correct?"

Yes, as a general proposition, it is none of their business as far as trying to influence our criminal justice policy. It might be their business in the case of a specific foreign citizen who is facing the DP.

But what tickles me most about European criticism of the DP is how the critics seem to forget the fascination many Europeans have had with the American West. They dress up as cowboys and "native americans" and watch Westerns on TV and in the theater. (Bonanza is a big favorite, and I'm sure True Grit is doing very well.)

Also interestingly old time European Marxists were very approving of our frontier justice system. They liked that a man could be tried, convicted, and then hung in only a few days after arrest. Some even argued that the post-Revolution criminal justice system should be modeled after our frontier justice system. Check out Reflections on Violence by Georges Sorel.

But Europeans know far more about us than we do about them. As to Norway, very few of us here know anything about the country, its history, and its culture other than the Vikings came from there; and that it's cold. If this is all we know, we risk making fools of ourselves by pontificating too loudly about the Norwegian criminal justice system.

Posted by: Fred | Jul 28, 2011 6:11:39 PM

If Norway is opposed to the death penalty, then I, as a sentencing judge, would impose THIS as a sentence: Solitary confinement for life. No parole.
No internet, TV, cell phone or access to the outside world. No magazines, newspapers, NO MAIL in or OUT! Nothing to write on, no paper, pen or pencil. No windows. No view. All meals served in his cell and confined to his cell 24 hours a day...for the rest of his life. Let out to shower once a week.
He must be allowed to his cell for the rest of his life. If this seems extreme, just remember......this option is far better than the sentence this man gave to so many innocent people who will be buried in a coffin forever. In today's world, the Norwegian government should be flexible enough to change/alter or revise their laws and sentences toward mass murder such as this and wake up to the fact that terror IS a potential world threat and that mass murder on this scale should be dealt with swiftly and severely to imprison these dangerous criminals.

Rodney Chapman, Sept, 2011, New Zealand

Posted by: Rodney Chapman | Aug 31, 2011 10:36:48 AM

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