Bastoy Prison in Southern Norway has been called a holiday version of Alcatraz. Founded in 1982, Bastoy Prison is located on a lush, 1-square-mile island of pine trees and rocky coasts, with views of the ocean that are postcard-worthy. It feels more like a resort than jail, and prisoners here enjoy freedoms that would be unthinkable elsewhere. There is a beach where prisoners sunbath in the summer. There are good fishing spots, tennis courts and a sauna.
Before passing any judgment on the luxurious accommodation, a closer look at the prison’s rate of recidivism would be in order. After all, isn’t reform the real goal of serving prison time?
Only 20% of prisoners who come through Norway’s prisons reoffend within two years of being released, according to a 2010 report commissioned by the governments of several Nordic countries. At Bastoy, that figure is even lower, officials say: about 16%. The comparable rate for state prisons in the United States is approximately 43%.
The CNN article written by John D. Sutter entitled: Welcome to the world’s nicest prison, contains a video that is worth watching. Whether or not you agree with the approach, it’s certainly hard to argue with the results!