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Old 03-26-2006, 02:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Break the law and live by a beach

Yahoo! News

By James KilnerThu Mar 23, 9:54 AM ET

The Web site reads like an advertisement for a holiday home.

"Is Bastoy the place for you?" it asks next to photographs of a sunset sparkling off the tranquil waters of the Oslo fjord and horses pulling sleighs over packed snow.

This wooded island could be -- if you are a rapist, a murderer, a drug trafficker or have accepted a large bribe.

"We try to take a cross-section of the country's prison population, not just the nice criminals," said Oyvind Alnaes, governor of the minimum security prison on Bastoy Island about 46 miles south of the Norwegian capital.

Inmates have included Norway's most notorious serial killer, Arnfinn Nesset, convicted of murdering 22 elderly people when he was manager of a nursing home in the 1970s. He was freed for good behavior after serving two-thirds of a 21-year sentence.

"A lot of people in Norway say that we treat them (the prisoners) too well because they should be punished. But this is the biggest mistake we have been making since the 1600s. Taking this line makes people bad," Alnaes said.

"You have to believe people are born good."

The one square mile island offers its 115 "residents" cross-country skiing, tennis and horse-riding, but before the inmates can slope off to practice their serve or head to the beach for a swim, there is work to do on the farm.

"We want to become the first ecological prison in the world," Alnaes said. "It's about giving the inmates responsibility (and) trust, and teaching them respect."

Alnaes, who wears jeans and t-shirts to work and is known to the inmates as Oyvind, says this model of open prison is the future. In 1997, he gave Bastoy Prison a new slogan: "An arena of the development of responsibility."

ESCAPE

Looking after the island's environment, he says, will nurture this sense of responsibility in the prisoners.

"Ecological thinking is about taking responsibility for nature, the future and how your grandchildren grow up," he said.

Only a handful of cars are used by prison staff on the island and along with the ferry, their engines will be converted to biofuel. The prison's six horses do most of the work, pulling carts driven by the prisoners, waste from the prison is used to generate power while oil heaters are being converted to wood.

The governor's development of responsibility goes further.

"The usual thing is that prisons are all about security," he said. "On the island, inmates work with knives and saws and axes. They need to do the work. And if an inmates increases his responsibility, you have to give him trust."

Norway has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the world but the justice system does receive some criticism, notably for lengthy pre-trial detentions and cramped holding cells at police stations.

Rather than watching and guarding, the 69 prison employees at Bastoy work alongside the inmates until it is time to go home and from 3 p.m. every day only five remain on the island.

The onus is on the prisoners not to escape

There have been few attempts, when friends have come over in a boat during the night to pick up a prisoner, but Alnaes says making a break for it is not a smart move.

"The prisoners understand that there is nowhere to go if they do escape. What is the alternative? Spend your life on the run or serve your time at Bastoy? And one attempted escape means you lose your right to stay here."

Prisoners have to apply for a place at Bastoy and applicants are vetted to filter out those who could cause the most trouble.

"That is the only place you can watch cable T.V. (in prison)," a short grey-haired man said, pointing to a stone building that houses the prison library.

BEACH LIFE

He watched as a dark-haired youth walked down a path toward one of the prisoners' brightly painted wooden houses. "He killed somebody, that guy. Not sure who, or why, though."

The speaker was Haavald Schjerven, a former U.N. department chief convicted in 2002 of taking $550,000 in bribes.

"It's OK here," he said. "It gives you time to think and reflect and, of course, I enjoy the horse-riding."

Schjerven showed Reuters around the wood-paneled house he shares with seven other criminals, pointing out the floor heating in the shared bathroom.

Norway releases prisoners early if they serve their sentences without trouble, and for the last part of their internment, they are allowed weekend breaks with friends and family.

Schjerven had just returned from a trip to Oslo where he discussed a business plan with a friend.

"It's much calmer here, we have a great sea view and it's only 150 meters to the beach."

One of the island's beaches is open to the public and is crowded in the summer with day-trippers. It is the only part of the island the prisoners are banned from.

There is no fence to keep curious visitors out but signs warn people against wandering around the island -- nonetheless day-trippers entering the prison are a bigger problem than inmates escaping, governor Alnaes said.

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This very interesting, does this type of prison turn out more rehabed prisoners or aren't they being punnished enough? What if the person who killed your SO, child or best friend was sent here.


Personally I'd be pissed if a killer of one of my loved ones was sent to this prison resort.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Personally, I think there are many many prisoners who would do well in this sort of environment, and probably not become repeat offenders because of it.

As to wether they deserve the punishment... thats something that can only be judged on an individual case basis, and most time, if the punishment of death is not opted for, and the prisoner is thought to be able to rehabilitate himself enough to become a productive member of society, this type of prison would certainly do more toward that goal that any other.
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Old 03-27-2006, 11:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree that, if it works, it's a great concept. I can't see the US getting away with a prison like this, but Norway? Maybe...
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Old 03-27-2006, 01:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't think it would trouble me that someone who killed my wife or kids ended up here.

The concept of the place isn't retribution or revenge. It is about rehabilitation. I would be surprised to find out that anyone convicted goes here immediately. They are chosen from the prison population as good candidates.

They have done some hard time and proved they were worthy of lower security prison. This one just happens to be on an Island with a beach.
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Old 03-27-2006, 01:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I do think it would trouble me that someone who killed my wife or kids ended up there.

The concept of the place is assinine as most violent offenders are not violent because they didn't get to cross country ski as a child. Anyone who thinks a serial killer will suddenly decide maybe killing wasn't so groovy after all cause they had a nice prison stay can have them move next door to them when they get out.

Quote:
"It's OK here," he said. "It gives you time to think and reflect and, of course, I enjoy the horse-riding."
Classic.

Shatter a family, be nice in prison, go to a resort.
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I guess it's worth a trial for 20 years or so (the prison).
Follow all the cases and see what the result is.
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I like the idea because if someone who had killed my wife or son got sent there, it wouldn't be hard to find/punish them myself.

It does sound like a good idea from a rehab stance though...
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm in favor of rehab for people who can benefit from it. A rapist, murderer or drug trafficker is someone though that I often suspect we would be better of simply punishing rather than trying to change. I doubt this place is quite the vacation resort the author wants to paint it to be, but I still think it is too good for someone who should be removed from society for their actions.
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Old 03-27-2006, 06:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I too think it would be good for some prisoners, the ones convicted of nonviolent and less violent crimes.
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I used to be a heavy proponent of punishment, and heavy punishment at that, but as I have aged, I have become more pragmatic- simply put, I am for whatever can be proven to humanely reduce crime, especially in the repeat offence department- now for murderers, rapists, violent assholes and the like, I am still all for execution by rotary excising catheter, but for the rest, the question that is important is (to rough quote a clockwork orange, ) Does it work?= if this can be shown to reduce dramaticly repeat offences, and make criminals into productive members of society, then I am all for it.....
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:35 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
if you are a rapist, a murderer, a drug trafficker or have accepted a large bribe.

Okay What The Fuck!

Rapist?!
A fucking Rapist is on this beach island?
Fuck that shit.

Murder, drugs, bribes, what ever, there are some logical and sometimes almost justifyable reasons for these...

But Rape?! WTF there is no reason for that shit Ever... just a sick bastard.

shit...
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If you knew how cold the water is on these latitudes you'd not be as upset about the "beach" part. Anyways, I think it's a good idea, for the right convicts. If they feel society cares about them and values them, maybe they'll be encouraged to become nice productive members of society once they get out. Treat people like scum and they become scum.

By the way, here's their webpage. It's in Norwegian, but it's got some nice pictures. http://www.bastoyfengsel.no/
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pip
If you knew how cold the water is on these latitudes you'd not be as upset about the "beach" part. Anyways, I think it's a good idea, for the right convicts. If they feel society cares about them and values them, maybe they'll be encouraged to become nice productive members of society once they get out. Treat people like scum and they become scum.

By the way, here's their webpage. It's in Norwegian, but it's got some nice pictures. http://www.bastoyfengsel.no/
These guys already ARE scum.
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Ok, I think think this is a fantastic idea, and for us Canadians, it's already happening out here in British Columbia. The institute is called William Head, it's on Vancouver Island. The whole place is a peninsula, there is only one fence. Inmates live in condos in groups of four-eight. They learn cooperation and other skills required to operate in society.

The problem with prison is that it's not an effective deterrant. Recidivism rates are extremely high. Violence, coercion, gang mentality... these are the life skills people learn when you send them to prison. Committing an offense which earns you three years in prison shouldn't ruin your entire life because you got raped by a prisoner with AIDS because you couldn't pay off the debts you earned in your first week.

They are operating from the right standpoint. Teaching inmates accountability for their actions, and life skills to successfully operate in the real world as functioning adults is what we need to be doing. Not retributively slapping them on the wrist and throwing them to the wolves.

Prisons are the staple of human ambivalence towards our own problems. Throw them away and forget about them... they're defective anyway. This is brutality.

If someone I loved was murdered, and sent to a place like this, I'd hope they learned what they needed so they didn't put someone else through the pain and anguish that they did to me.

That being said, people truly don't realize how RARE murder and violent crime is compared to the vast majority of crime. In 2003, violent crime in British Columbia accounted for a MASSIVE 8% of the crime... SHOCKING!!! . The other 92% of crime is the stuff we're sending these people to jail for when there is so obviously more effective and constructive ways of SOLVING their problems instead of COMPOUNDING them.
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:04 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Jail is jail. Doesn't matter how nice it is if you're not in control of your own life. I'd rather live free in a slum than captive in a mansion.

Don't know how this story compares to what the Finns are doing, but the Finns have put together a rehab-intensive prison system that boasts a recidivism rate (repeat offenses after release) of maybe five percent. Compare that to what, 33-50 percent in the US.

Punitive action feels good emotionally, and there truly are some twisted people in the prisons. But if you ever visit a county jail or prison, you'll see that the majority of inmates are -- clueless. Impulsive. Walk around with their mouths open half the time. Don't have the judgement God gave a flea. You can smack 'em around for $40k a year (the cost of keeping them), or you can try to help them find a clue and never come back.
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I would think that this would serve as an incentive for repeat offenders. Unless such are excluded from returning to this same facility. Hell, there are people in this country who are starving or freezing on the street who will break a store window or steal some bread just to get sent to prison where they get warm and fed. Can you imagine if the prison was a resort island instead of just cement walls and iron bars? For those barely surviving on the edge of society, what would be the incentive to NOT commit crime?

I think that a good part of this issue comes down to the differences between the criminal justice systems between the US and Norway. I know that our prisons are <b>packed</b> with citizens charged with drug offenses. How does this compare to Norway? Do you only get sent to prison there if you are doing something to someone besides yourself?
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Old 03-28-2006, 01:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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There are many who see this sort of thing, or what the Finns are doing and cry out, "this isn't punishment!"

These people long for workhouses and prisons of the past.
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Old 03-29-2006, 10:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Id be very curious to find out how many prisoners released from that place are repeat offenders... For most of them, you can't keep them locked up forever. The justice systems just dont work that way. If this prison releases less repeat offenders than any other... Well, the numbers would speak for themselves.
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Old 03-29-2006, 04:38 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krwlz
Id be very curious to find out how many prisoners released from that place are repeat offenders... For most of them, you can't keep them locked up forever. The justice systems just dont work that way. If this prison releases less repeat offenders than any other... Well, the numbers would speak for themselves.
Now you're getting it!

The goal of the criminal justice system should be not only to punish offenders, but ensure that they don't reoffend.

I'll be watching this one with a curious eye as well.
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Sounds interesting, would need statistics before I could really decide if I liked the idea. Obviously we need a better correctional philosophy, what we have now doesn't seem to work very well.
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:03 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Hmmmm... 3pm every day and done with your work?
Time to go horseback riding?

definitely sounds more like a rehabilitation center.
i wonder what would happen if one of those was set up in the United States. I know of similar-styled youth rehabilitation centers, and they appear on the whole successful. I have never heard of a similar option for those who were convicted of violent crimes.

Californians are frustrated with their prison system on the whole. But then again, not enough seem to step up with fresh ideas. Norway may have a good answer.
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:10 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I don't think I'd feel any worse about someone staying there as staying in a prison. At least if they weren't getting a death sentence then they are at least WORKING. It doesn't sound like these inmates are allowed to become slackers. They don't get to sit on their duff all day watching TV, getting their meals cooked for them, their cells cleaned and not have to do a tiny bit of work. These inmates are at least not living completely off my tax dollars. It sounds like they have SOMETHING to contribute.
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Old 03-29-2006, 05:17 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeraph
Sounds interesting, would need statistics before I could really decide if I liked the idea. Obviously we need a better correctional philosophy, what we have now doesn't seem to work very well.
But is it because our prisons are not enough of a deterrent or because they fail in rehabilitation? And even if prisons fail in rehabilitation why doesnít the prison experience itself provide some deterrent? I remember seeing Scared Straight on TV as a kid and it truly scared the hell out of me. I wonder how they young people being thrust in front of the prisoners did as far as staying out of prison.

Iíve also seen an old prison. I was in Boise once and went through the old Idaho State Penitentiary. This was the early 90s and the prison had been in use as late as the 70s. Seeing the conditions as they were made me wonder how anyone who had been through that could go back.

And as someone else mentioned earlier in this thread, losing your freedom despite where you will be confined would be bad enough. If incarceration itself isnít a deterrent to crime what is going to work?


Quote:
Originally Posted by genuinegirly
I know of similar-styled youth rehabilitation centers, and they appear on the whole successful.
That is something I would like to see more of. Saving the youth that almost certainly stand a greater chance of turning things around before they become the hardened criminal that finds themselves in a hopeless situation.
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Old 03-29-2006, 11:32 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Psycho Dad
But is it because our prisons are not enough of a deterrent or because they fail in rehabilitation? And even if prisons fail in rehabilitation why doesnít the prison experience itself provide some deterrent? I remember seeing Scared Straight on TV as a kid and it truly scared the hell out of me. I wonder how they young people being thrust in front of the prisoners did as far as staying out of prison.
Scared straight was actually proven to INCREASE the chances of people committing crime. Basically what happened was the kids found it "cool" that they were associating with hardened criminals... I can't explain it, but that's what the research has shown.

Scared straight was a disastrous failure.
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Old 03-30-2006, 04:07 AM   #25 (permalink)
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I don't think it's too hard to explain, Ace_O_Spades.
When I was doing my MA in criminology, my advisor would organize scared straight tours for the youth shelter/detention kids. The thing is, the people it would scare, probably I would think someone like Psycho Dad would fall into and maybe he will say if this is correct, don't really know anything about prisons or anyone in them. But they aren't likely to be in a shelter/detention center, either. They also aren't usually in troubled areas and in those schools targeted for programs like this.

But the people it wouldn't scare, the people who were often taken on these tours, have friends and family members in prison. They have significant ties to prisons and their cultures. For kids like that, it had the reverse effect of scaring them from prison.

Now, my husband was in that first category. But he was in prison for a while and so it was backwards, it wasn't as bad as he imagined it would be. But if fucked him up a lot, in my opinion. And if he had gone to a place like this, I think he would have been better off. And whatever you might think about what my husband deserved, I was always innocent--but I had to suffer, too. If smooth had been in a place like this, I would have suffered less. If we had children, and I knew other family members and some people who had children while their men were in prison, they would have felt his incarceration.

I hope that people who advocate punishment for felons also consider innocent people affected by their lives. Especially for victimless crimes, where people like me become casualties.
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Old 03-30-2006, 05:01 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by lusciousmunkee
The thing is, the people it would scare, probably I would think someone like Psycho Dad would fall into and maybe he will say if this is correct, don't really know anything about prisons or anyone in them. But they aren't likely to be in a shelter/detention center, either. They also aren't usually in troubled areas and in those schools targeted for programs like this.
That likely is similar to where I was when I saw Scared Straight. I was a a pre-teen in a stable home and school with good parents and family. I would suspect that results may very well be quite different for someone who has close relatives or friends in prison or who are at risk for running outside of the law for other reasons.
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Old 03-30-2006, 10:21 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Good points lusciousmunkee... I especially liked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by lusciousmunkee
Especially for victimless crimes, where people like me become casualties.
Victimless crimes, such as drug offenses, where the only reason they are in jail was due to a prohibition of said drug. These people need helpful treatment, not harsh punishment. Nobody should be in prison for using drugs.

And yes, nobody talks about how sending vast amounts of people to prison for minor offenses effects the lives of their families, especially dependent children. This problem is enhanced with female offenders. Clearly some alternative solutions need to be tried.
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Old 04-02-2006, 05:07 PM   #28 (permalink)
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think i'm for anything that teaches prisoners skills that can be used on the outside, something different than crime, that they are probably learning plenty of in prison. Would be nice though if the united states didn't have a serial killer or organized crime fascination it has. gangsta rap. Maybe thats fading, anyway would be nice if it did. Not sure bringing over ideas that work in norway would work here anymore than ones from here into norway.

was nice reading about it though, i mean the present situation isn't working here, would like to think some of those ideas could be adapted into something suiting this culture.
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