Sunday, July 19, 2009

For your next vacation...Norwegian prisons

Jeremy Weate on Naijablog posted about the British government's decision to build a prison in Nigeria to house Nigerians who committed crimes in the UK. Much more cost-effective, obviously.
Which made me think of this story, and this one, which appeared in the two main Norwegian newspapers on the same day last summer. For those who don't read Norwegian, the first headline is "Foreigners in Norwegian Prisons Don't Want to Go Home," and the second "Foreign Criminals Take their Vacation in Norwegian Prisons." There have been a lot of articles like that in the Norwegian press; a favorite one profiled a Lithauanian man who really enjoyed his Ikea-style dorm room, internet-enabled computer, and distance from his family with their incessant demands.

This brings me to the whole world of the bizarre that is the Norwegian prison, at once wonderfully enlightened and entirely naive.

Take this article. Headline: "Greased Himself in Cooking Oil and Escaped from Prison." Unfortunately, his cellmate was too fat and got stuck. Which is not so different from one of the opening scenes of Hawaii, Oslo, a blockbuster (by Norwegian standards) film from 2004.

Or this article. Written by a former prisoner, it describes a land of unlimited resources where the intended rehabilitative purposes of prison actually seem to work. A little rah-rah Norway in perspective -- understandable given the author's experiences in less-enchanted lock-ups.

Which reminds me: did they ever catch those guys who stole The Scream?

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