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Norway's controversial 'cushy prison' experiment

  1. Dec 30, 2013 #1
    Norway's controversial 'cushy prison' experiment - could it catch on in the UK?

    I think we definitely need to rethink our prison problem, but this seems to go way to far. It may work in Norway where there are relatively few in prison and the population is homogeneous and few in gangs.
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  3. Dec 30, 2013 #2
    I don't think it'd work in US, UK, France for example, for the reasons you stated.

    In countries like Japan, that have low criminality and population homogeneity like Norway it'd probably work.
  4. Dec 30, 2013 #3


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    For this to work here, there would have to be careful screening. No sociopaths or psychopaths, no gang members. And I'd exclude violent criminals for sure.
  5. Dec 31, 2013 #4
    Well a lot of them would be white collar criminals than I take it.
    Like people committing fraud to get just that kind of stuff in life.
    Wouldn't that kind of defeat the purpose of jail time?
    Since they still have a lot of the luxury they got in trouble for?

    Just my first thoughts on this. I don't say they have to be thrown in with the big bad wolves but they shouldn't be sent to the spa either.
  6. Dec 31, 2013 #5


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    Those numbers from Daily Mail are largely nonsense, by some sanguine number juggling.

    For example, in table 10.4 (p.106) from the Central Bureau of Statistics (SSB), that concerns how persons charged with a crime in the year 2000, and looking at recidivism rates for 2001-2005, the general recidivism (when all types of new crimes are counted) is roughly 50%, for those charged with a violent crime in 2000, the recidivism rate is roughly 60%. Those charged originally with robbery/theft originally had the highest recidivism rates to other (or the same) crime types, roughly 80%

    I'm sure the "number juggling" in Daily Mail is not a direct falsification, but is a garbled statement of an accurate assessment, whose premises and detailed conditions are not given in Daily Mail.
    Note that in the SSB publication referred to here, it concerned persons charged in 2000, not necessarily convicted in 2000.
  7. Jan 2, 2014 #6
    In the U.S., prison is an industry. Start reading up on this and you will be disgusted.

    Conditions in prisons should be similar to conditions in a psychiatric hospital, in my opinion. Obviously greater precautions would have to be taken due to safety concerns. Saunas and sunbeds are going a bit too far - but just a bit. Rehabilitation should be the focus, not free slave labor.

    I'm a big fan of a book called Inside the Criminal Mind by psychologist Stanton Samenow, Ph.D. It provides some insight into how criminals work the system, often hoodwinking well-meaning therapists, and what type of therapy might actually be effective.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  8. Jan 2, 2014 #7
    It really comes down to what the purpose of prison is.

    Do we build prisons in order to punish people, or to correct "bad" behavior, or some mix of both? Which is a more important goal?

    If we minimize punishment, but maximize correction, is that really a bad thing? If our aim is to punish, why don't we build more severe prisons where prisoners are beaten and tortured?

    We seem to want our prisoners to suffer to some extent, but just not too much? I think America needs to get a better grasp on what it expects to accomplish by imprisoning people before we criticize a model like this.
  9. Jan 2, 2014 #8
    In America, prison is pretty much a punishment. That punishment is supposed to be a deterrent for breaking the law. But it seems to me, even if you promised a punishment of torture until death, people will still be committing crimes at about the same rate. Criminals don't intend to get caught. Seems to me like the countries renowned for places where you wouldn't want to go to jail, because the jails are so horrible, are places that still have the most crime.
  10. Jan 2, 2014 #9


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    If you are a wealthy US citizen convicted of a crime, you will be sent to a country-club prison with tennis courts, hot tubs, etc. It is a gentle, benign form of confinement. We already have a Norwegian system in the US, but it only applies to the the very wealthy. Poor people need not apply.
  11. Jan 2, 2014 #10
    Look, what is the alternative when a hardened criminal completes a sentence of many but finite years in prison? Turn him loose on the streets with no job and no prospect of a job? To commit new crimes till he gets caught at some of them?

    These are people who have served several years in a closed prison. Now they have the opportunity to learn to live and work with most of the comforts of freedom... but not all. And the threat is there - if they blow that chance they go back to closed prison.
  12. Jan 2, 2014 #11


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    Not sure where that myth comes from - I've seen it a lot - but it is in fact untrue:

  13. Jan 2, 2014 #12
    Why would those prisons exist? What benefit would the state get out of it? And the taxpayers would have to know their money is going to fund such a facility.

    Mike Tyson was a millionaire and went to a normal prison.
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