March 8, 2018, CNN News
Norway’s prison system is designed with three core values in mind: normality, humanity and rehabilitation. The point of incarceration in Norway, they say, is to make inmates “better neighbors” once they are released – and they take that mission very seriously.
In the US, prison is generally seen as punishment for crimes committed. But Norway might change that. In 2015, prison directors and lawmakers from North Dakota traveled to see Norway’s prisons for themselves.
The trip was part of a program that takes state officials to visit the country, which has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world. When the leaders returned, North Dakota slowly began making changes to its prison system. The move has been controversial with some prison staff. The changes called for different dynamics between inmates and corrections officers, causing one of them to leave over what he believed was a fundamental shift in their training.
North Dakota’s prison directors say the benefit in the long run – reducing the state’s recidivism rate – is worth giving this new approach a chance. If the goal is to make them better neighbors, North Dakota inmate Jonathan McKinney says it’s working. He spent more than two years in and out of solitary confinement during part of his 17-year sentence for murder and other serious charges. Because of Norway’s influence, prison officials allowed him to transfer to medium security when he showed good behavior – a move that he would not have been able to make as easily before.
Note: Watch an incredible nine-minute video on the mind-boggling success of Norway’s prison system.