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News Keeping Anders Breivik happy.

  1. Jun 1, 2012 #1
    Norway wants to keep the accused mass murderer happy. They are posting positions for paid employees to visit Breivik in custody and keep him company. In Norway, keeping prisoners in isolation is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Breivik faces a maximum sentence of 21 years if convicted of killing 77 people, mostly teenagers. That works out to about 100 days per murder. If they can only convict him of some of the murders, does he get less time?

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  3. Jun 1, 2012 #2


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    In Norway prisons are centres of rehabilitation rather than punishment and whilst it is easy to mock or look on with disgust they have one of the lowest recidivist and crime rates in the world. There was an article on the BBC that I'll try to find later written by a journalist who visited one of their prisons. She's used to visiting them in the UK and US so asked the warden how many violet attacks they've had recently (prisoner on prisoner, prisoner on guard etc) and even though the place was full of rapists and murderers the warden couldn't remember the last time it was that long ago.

    Moral of the story; it's good to examine your axiums before passing judgement. You may find out there's a very good reason people do things different.
  4. Jun 1, 2012 #3
    Up to a point, I would agree with you. However, in this particular case, does it make sense to you to talk about rehabilitation?
  5. Jun 1, 2012 #4
    In this case, there should be no rehabilitation. He should be locked up alone for the rest of his life.
  6. Jun 1, 2012 #5


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  7. Jun 1, 2012 #6


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    But isn't it true that the there is a significantly lower number of habitually violent people incarcerated in Norway as opposed to the extremely violent mentality of the gangs that wind up in US prisons?
  8. Jun 1, 2012 #7
    He took the life of 80 or more children who had a right to live (due to his madness). Those who take others life have no rights or privileges (IMO). So, i think something is seriously wrong with Norway justice and prison system.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  9. Jun 1, 2012 #8
    If you believe he did it due to insanity it makes no particular sense to punish him for that. The point of locking him up would be to prevent him from doing it any more. Should we punish a rabid dog that bit someone for having rabies?
  10. Jun 1, 2012 #9


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    Rehabilitation should always be tried in perpetuity. Remember even once his sentence is at an end under Norwegian law if he is still judged a threat then he should be let in. I don't think an argument can ever be made that someone will never be rehabilitated (they may very well be but you can't know that).
    Which would accomplish..? I appreciate that there are three aspects to justice: rehabilitation, paying back to society and punishment but none should be over emphasised and far to often it is the third that is seen as the be all and end all to the detriment to society.
    It's a fair point that the social situation in Norway probably doesn't create the criminality seen in the US or elsewhere but I don't think that's the majority of the story. A rapist in Norway is less likely to rape again than in the US and I don't think that could be put down to societal factors.

    Also your point illustrates the need for justice to be interdepartmental in government. There needs to be a recognition that law has to be prospective (i.e. prophylactic in minimising/removing the factors that generate criminality) as well as retrospective (i.e. dealing with crime once it has happened).
  11. Jun 1, 2012 #10
    Yes, but he has been declared fit to stand trial. He makes no effort to deny the accusation. In fact be brags about it. He says he hates Muslims and anyone who would defend their rights in Norway, which includes the political party with whom most of his victims were affiliated. In effect, he is a terrorist although he would say he's a counter-terrorist. I don't believe he is legally insane. He certainly doesn't act like a rabid dog. He was described as calmly shooting people in a well planned attack and then surrendering to police without incident.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  12. Jun 1, 2012 #11
    Does it, make any particular to sense keep a rabid dog around, instead of simply putting out of its misery. I didn't, intend to label him completely insane, obviously he's not alright ,due to the nature of crime he committed. It also makes no particular sense to help him. How would anybody have the sense to help such a person(as per the article) is beyond me.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  13. Jun 1, 2012 #12
    I was merely addressing the post as written.
  14. Jun 1, 2012 #13
    In the U.S. he'd be executed, for sure.

    I think the Norwegian Justice system should stay consistent with itself. From Ryan's description it sounds much better than ours here where people are released from jail having become much better and more determined criminals than they were when they went in. I think the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment should be maintained, even in this case.
  15. Jun 1, 2012 #14
    That is not quite true. He can be sentenced to containment ("forvaring"). After 21 years, if the prisoner is considered to be a danger to society, his sentence can be increased by 5 years. After those 5 years, it can be increased by 5 years again if the threat to society is believed to still exist. This can be repeated indefinitely.
  16. Jun 1, 2012 #15
    There is an important difference between fit to stand trial (i.e. you do not have a severe psychiatric disorder that prevents you from taking part in the trial itself) and criminally accountable (i .e. not having a severe psychiatric disorder at the time of the crime). Only the latter is relevant for his sentencing.
  17. Jun 1, 2012 #16
    Predatory prisoners in the US like to play this card also. But, imo, the cruel and unusual part of prison is having to deal with ignorant, violent, sociopathic, psychopathic people. It's my guess that a lot of prisoners (at least in US prisons) would love to be kept in isolation.

    The population of Norway is somewhat different from that of the US. Less violent in general, from what I've read -- so, it's prisons can be, er, nicer -- even though, imo, they're not rehabilitating anybody any more than US prisons are rehabilitating anybody.

    Imo, no.

    I agree ... or just executed. But Norway doesn't execute people, afaik. So, yes, imo just put him in a room with a toilet and bed, give him a couple of meals a day, and forget about him.

    Good point.

    Anyway, whether this guy is sane or not, it makes absolutely no sense to me to give him any sort of comfort. He should be killed, imo, but at least he's never getting out.
  18. Jun 1, 2012 #17


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    Why would you give him a toilet and a bed?
  19. Jun 1, 2012 #18
    It would accomplish punishing this individual. What would rehabilitation accomplish? Punishment should be emphasized in favor of everything else when you're dealing with a monster. For someone who is absolutely atrocious and should never see the light of day again, what would be the point of rehabilitation?
  20. Jun 1, 2012 #19
    If you're talking about rehabilitation then you are saying he wasn't in his exact frame of mind, or insane. Ander's believes in his ideology and believes himself not to be insane, so essentially rehabilitation couldn't work on him.
  21. Jun 1, 2012 #20
    I'm not sure that's a safe assumption. At the end of his sentence, his incarceration can be extended for up 5 years if he is considered a danger to the public according to a previous post. Additional five year extensions are possible. I don't know if there are any prisoners in Norway that have had their terms extended or how being a continuing danger to the public is determined. However, my impression of Breivic is that he is a fanatic, but not psychotic or stupid. If he thought he could get out in order to continue his "work" by persuading the authorities he has been reformed and has seen the error of his ways, he just might succeed. After all, the authorities might not like accepting failures in their rehabilitation program.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  22. Jun 2, 2012 #21


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    Firstly a system that just punishes accomplishes nothing aside from costing you a bomb and if practised widely gives you the kind of prison industrial complex seen in the US and increasingly the UK (and if the punishment is cruel and unusual it legitimises eye for an eye within your culture) and secondly you can never know the future. Yes Breivik is a monster, no I don't know if he could be rehabilitated but also I don't know that he can't. The problem is that if you have a justice system that focuses on three points (as I outlined above) you can't just start saying that X crimes are exempt.

    A huge problem with these kind of discussions is the cultural divide. It's easy for people in some countries to view rehabilitation systems as some kind of reward. You see it all the time with outraged news articles harping on about how prisoners in X country get flat screen TVs. But the problem is that it is not a reward, what they do in these prisons they do for good reasons, they have a goal in mind to ensure that when someone leaves that prison they will no longer be a threat to society and they use a fairly empirical method of testing different rehabilitation systems and seeing what works. It's easy to point and be outraged or to resort to violence but at the end of the day shouldn't we all be wanting to live in a world where our justice system is constantly, empirically seeking to achieve that goal? Sure it might be satisfying to know that someone who has committed a violent crime or even an atrocity is suffering (and just because they go to a rehabilitation prison does not mean they do not suffer), I know it's a satisfying thought to me. But we have to be dispassionate about things like this, we can't afford to let raw emotion get into our justice systems. We need to be OK with trying experimental prisons because demonstrably big box containers stuffed full of criminals of all types are not up to the task we set them.
    No that's not the case. Rehabilitation doesn't mean you take an insane on unbalanced individual, it means you take someone whose ideology and behaviour is so far outside of the culturally accepted norm that it is criminally damaging to others and you try to change that.
  23. Jun 2, 2012 #22
    If you don't do that, then some well-meaning but (imo) misguided people might complain for him -- which might cause him and his crime to continue to be discussed, which might increase the likelihood that some equally misguided fanatic might copy his crime.
  24. Jun 2, 2012 #23
    I think that any authorities involved will be under enough pressure to keep him locked up that he'll be kept locked up.
  25. Jun 2, 2012 #24
    On top of these considerations there's the phenomenon of becoming what you seek to punish by indulging in the punishment of them. To the extent a society can abstain from demonizing such a person and heaping pain upon them they maintain their own humanity. The minimum goal of preventing them from further crimes by simply locking them up is the healthiest for the society. This guy's crimes arose from the fact that he demonized some political group to the extent he decided they needed to be punished. It's hard for a lot of people to see it this way, I'm sure, but I think what's going on here is that the Norwegians want to stay Norwegians and not become Brevikians.

    The famous sociological study of what happens to normal people when they are put in the role of punishing others is telling and frightening:


    Scroll down to "Prison Study". (This is not the Milgram Experiment, in case that's what you expect.)
  26. Jun 2, 2012 #25
    There's no way to know if a person has or hasn't been rehabilitated. People are put into prison in order to keep them out of the general society. In general, from what I've read, prison neither rehabilitates nor punishes.

    I think it is the majority of the story.

    As far as I know, incarceration or execution are the only reliable means of preventing criminals from committing crimes in the general population. Imo, the problem for societies where criminal behavior is inordinately high is that there aren't enough prisons to keep the people locked up who need to be kept locked up.
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