Prisons: Norway vs America

Aengus Muldoon, Journalist

What do you consider a bad prison or a bad person? Do you think that people should be punished or rehabilitated?. I interviewed two people: a teacher and a student at the school. I wanted to get  their opinions on the current situation of the jail cells in the United States as opposed to the jail cesmall-police-stationlls in Norway.









I showed the people pictures of jail cells, with the questions that corresponded to them. The Norway prison systems are very controversial among people. Norway prisons are treated more as rehabilitation centers.  Prisoners stay in a comfortable, normal home.  They have televisions, couches, a single working sink, shower and toilet. They see counselors who help to make sure of their re-entry into society as productive human beings. Over in the United States, prison systems are built around justice and punishment. Our jail cells are tiny rooms; prisoners have a bed, a bathroom, and a sink. However all  of these are in the same room. In our country cells do not have doors, but we do have bars.

I asked Nick Howa, a senior at Ipswich High School, if he thinks we should copy what Halden Prison (a prison in Norway) does with their prisoners. He responded  “We should, but our citizens won’t take it seriously”.  Nick felt that the transition would be too difficult and that many citizens just would not care.  I asked if he thought that we treat our prisoners fairly in the United States.  Nick  answered. “To a degree of the crime. If you committed arson or murder then you should seek help from professionals”. However, if an inmate raped a child, then they should go to jail.”  I further inquired what Nick thought about the limits in terms of people being punished.  A lot of people have many thoughts going through their minds when they are talking about people being punished. Nick responded. “They shouldn’t be put in death row because they waste time and money on inmates spending a year or more in jail”  Death row is very controversial. Some people may suggest  that we “just kill them!” Or think that they should just rot in a prison cell because it is what they deserve after the particular crime  that they committed.

I also asked  Mr Krieger, the Criminal Justice and Forensic Science teacher at the high school, about what he thought about the subject.  I asked what he thought of the meal situation. He said. “I don’t know what they have for meals over there, but they should get fed.” I also asked him about our government. I asked if he thinks that our prison system is corrupt. He replied,  “Any government entity is corrupt.”   I  asked him about the prison system in Norway, and if we should bring over that form of treatment instead of punishing criminals.  I gave him a background on the situation of the prisons over there.  I asked him whether we should bring that kind of prison system over here to the United States instead of always punishing prisoners with harsher penalties. Mr Krieger responded. “Parts of it make sense. However, it could be more expensive to bring that form over here. Also, there should be some real form of punishment for their crimes.”

A lot of people would agree. Some people believe that criminals need punishment when they commit a crime. There was a question that was going through my mind about whether people thought that this was a fair way to treat their prisoners.  It is a very controversial topic. So I asked the closest expert that I know about this subject. I asked Mr Krieger what he thinks about how we treat  our prisoners. He replied, “I can’t say if it’s fair, but that he do believe in their prison systems.” This answer didn’t surprise me too much, seeing as a lot of people don’t really know about how prison systems are over in Norway.

In conclusion, there are people that don’t think that inmates should be punished, and there are others that don’t think that inmates should be punished as severely. The two people that I interviewed said people that commit a certain crime should get put in a prison system like Norway, if they commit a petty crime like stealing. Another thought suggests that if  something is a more serious crime, justifiable crime within the right context, the punishment should be more severe. If a minor crime is committed, an inmate could be transferred to a prison like the ones in Norway.