Stinking walls, overcrowded cells, and terrible living conditions. That's what you picture when you think of a prison, right? Well, Norway's maximum security prison, Halden, is anything but that. Focussing on rehabilitation of prisoners, Halden breaks all the notions of the grisly place called jail that we have ever heard of.
Halden Prison has been constructed in a communal apartment-style, and provides a homely environment to all the inmates to inculcate good behaviour in them! Take a look:
1. To relieve the inmates of psychological burdens of imprisonment, around $1 million has been spent on paintings, photography and light installations inside the jail.
2. The maximum penalty in Norway, even for manslaughter, is 21 years of imprisonment. And since, most of the prisoners eventually return to society, the prison is designed in a way that resembles a house. The rooms in Halden have en-suite bathrooms with ceramic tiles, mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs.
3. There's a kitchen shared by 10-12 cells where inmates cook their own food in the evening and unwind in the living room!
4. There's a rock climbing wall, jogging trails and even a soccer field inside the prison to keep the inmates occupied, so that they don't get into fights with the security guards. They can also take up a hobby and various activities are organized for them from 8 AM until 8 PM.
5. The prison also has a recording studio equipped with a professional mixing board and in-house music teachers give music lessons to the inmates.
6. To minimize the feeling of a controlled environment, the architects who designed Halden Prison preserved trees all around its boundary to obscure the 20 feet-high security wall. In fact, the jogging trail has benches and chessboards for prisoners to relax.
7. As many as 18 different colours have been used to paint the walls of Halden, to stimulate various moods. The prison also houses a two-bedroom guesthouse where prisoners' families can come and stay!
8. All the prison guards receive a 2-year training at an officers' academy. It's in their job description to motivate the inmates "so that their sentence is as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible." Interestingly, half the prison guards at Halden Prison are females!
9. Prisoners' health is taken care of properly. There are dentists, doctors, nurses and librarians, who work at a local municipality. Halden also has a small hospital and a state-of-the-art dentist's office!
10. To make sure that the prisoners don't get an institutional-like feeling in a confined environment, Halden has a kitchen laboratory where inmates learn the basics of nutrition and cooking. They can also pursue courses to prepare themselves for careers as caterer, chefs or waiters.