The New York Times profiles Norwegian justice and the country’s Halden Fengsel, which is often called the world's most humane maximum-security prison. The treatment of inmates at Halden is wholly focused on helping to prepare them for a life after they get out. Not only is there no death penalty in Norway, there are no life sentences. The maximum term for any crime is 21 years.
To anyone familiar with the American correctional system, Halden would seem alien. The relative freedom of movement it offers, and its quiet and peaceful atmosphere, are out of sync with the forms of imprisonment found in the United States. “Better out than in” is an unofficial motto of the Norwegian Correctional Service, which makes a reintegration guarantee to all released inmates. It works with other government agencies to secure a home, a job and access to a supportive social network for each inmate before release. But it’s not cheap. Spending on the Halden prison runs to more than $93,000 per inmate per year, compared with just $31,000 for prisoners in the United States.