This Is the World's Cushiest Prison

There are no armed guards, but there are beaches to tan on
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2012 11:33 AM CDT
Updated May 27, 2012 10:30 AM CDT

We earlier reported on the plush world of Norway's Halden prison, where Anders Behring Breivik could end up. Today CNN tops that prison (which employs personal trainers) with what it calls the "world's nicest prison" and "the holiday version of Alcatraz." Also located in Norway, Bastoy Prison is, as you might expect, home to murderers and rapists. Here's what it's not home to: armed guards or fences. In fact, the convicts carry the keys to their own rooms. On this tiny island, the 115 prisoners can tan on the beaches, fish, play tennis, and use the sauna.

Instead of cells, they live in cottages "painted a cheery red." They wear whatever clothes they want. They get paid about $10 a day to do jobs like garden, or tend to horses. They eat farm-fresh eggs and salmon. If all this infuriates you, join the club: Norway has heard it before. It says its unconventional approach reduces the risk of reoffending: Some 20% of the country's prisoners do so in two years; of those who have passed through Bastoy, it's 16%. The three-year US rate is 43%. Says the prison's governor, ""If we have created a holiday camp for criminals here, so what? We should reduce the risk of reoffending, because if we don't, what's the point of punishment, except for leaning toward the primitive side of humanity?" (More Norway stories.)

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