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Not-so-hard time


June 10th, 2010

It's clear, based on a May Time magazine dispatch, that Norway's felons and miscreants are of a superior class than America's. When Norway's brand-new Halden prison opened in April, the country's King...

It's clear, based on a May Time magazine dispatch, that Norway's felons and miscreants are of a superior class than America's. When Norway's brand-new Halden prison opened in April, the country's King Harald V headlined a glitzy gala that celebrated what has been called the world's "most humane" lockup. Among the facilities: a sound studio, jogging trails, a guest house for inmates' visitors, and a scrumptious-smelling "kitchen laboratory" where murderers and bandits can learn to cook. Guards are unarmed (half are women) and intermingle with the rapists, drug dealers and others, dining with them and joining them in intramural sports. The recidivist rate for Norwegian prisoners in general is only 20 percent (versus 50 percent to 60 percent in the United States), but it is still early to tell whether Halden's prisoners will find life behind bars so pleasant that they don't mind risking another stretch there by returning to crime.
 
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