In this episode we explore some of the following topics:
- What makes Norway’s prisons the most humane, and in my view, the most innovative prisons systems in the world,
- How Norway went from a nation of pillaging Vikings full of violence, murder, and revenge to a country where peace and forgiveness came to triumph,
- How Norwegian prisons differ from the rest of the world and their U.S. counterparts and what they are doing that others are not,
- Why the U.S., despite being real “tough” on crime and punishment, has one of the highest recidivism and crime rates in the world and Norway one of the lowest,
- If there’s something special about Norwegian people, their culture or socialization that makes them susceptible to rehabilitation,
- How Norway’s prisons were plagued by violence and drugs 30 years ago, similar to their American counterparts,
- If Norways maximum prison sentence of 21 years is enough for the most violent crimes,
- If it’s really true, what many foreign news reports claim, that Norways Halden maximum prison, is a posh, luxurious boutique hotel, where inmates have their own flat screen TVs and why that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,
- Explore the Bastøy prison island, where inmates have heated floors, sauna and five-star cooking classes and what that’s all about,
- How we, as a society, reconcile the need for retribution and punishment for heinous crimes and the need for reintegration of criminals back into society,
- and finally, we see if my interview partner, Tom Eberhardt, really looks like the Norwegian Kevin Costner, as the international press claims.
- The punishment should be the time served, not to inflict pain or be punitive.
- Prison can happen to anyone! A petty altercation can quickly become a 10-year prison sentence.
- Most prison and justice systems haven’t evolved from the middle ages.
- If we don’t treat the inmates with respect, we will release angry and bitter people into society.
- Many countries such as the U.S. have high crime rates, over-crowed prison system, inhuman conditions, high recidivism rate - despite the death penalty as the harshest form of punishment.
- The solution, as often in life, is counterintuitive. It would seem logical and emotionally satisfying to punish people for their crimes.
- To keep people from coming back we have to make prisons look nicer and not scarier in the hope that inmates won't commit crimes again - so, essentially the exact opposite of what we’re doing today. We really need this to change.
- Prisons in Norway not only look like a college campus, but also feels like people are there to learn and the staff are there to teach them something. They built their prisons to do exactly what they said they were going to do - to rehabilitate!
- It starts with how we treat prisoners, the behaviour and education of prison guards towards their inmates they are not only guarding, but more importantly, rehabilitating to become a good neighbour again.
- Norway’s correctional system is a shining example of how to not only make society a better and safer place, but also give human beings a second chance - a chance to rehabilitate themselves.
- Evolutionary psychologists even argue that both vengeance and forgiveness are universal human behaviours. People can, and routinely do, forgive others, even in cases of severe crime. We humans are naturally born with both capacities: to blame and retaliate or punish, or to forgive and seek to rehabilitate. Which one we choose, is up to us.
- We need to evolve our justice and correctional systems to move away from retribution, and towards rehabilitation. The justice system itself can offer forgiveness, not on behalf or in place of victims, but on its own terms. And the justice system can be better designed to embody rehabilitation strategies.
- If Norway, a former nation of pillaging Vikings full of violence, murder and rape, can transform itself into a country where peace and forgiveness can triumph, similar to how Germany and Rwanda went from countries of mass genocide to countries of peace, so can any country!
- Criminals too, have proven that they can do wrong, let them prove that they can do something right and contribute to society.
Links & Resources Mentioned
Links from the Episode
- Bastøy Prison Island
- Halden Prison, maximum-security prison in Norway (also shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Awards)
- The Marshall Project (Nonprofit journalism about criminal justice)
- Prison Law Office
- Vera Institute of Justice
- The Prison Gender Gap
Articles from the Episode
- Vox Media: How to make prisons more humane - A North Dakota prison official tries to take a page from Norway
- ABA Journal: I Did It Norway - Some American prisons are singing a European tune.
- The Washington Post: The ‘world’s most humane’ prison system is so overcrowded, it’s now sending criminals abroad
- TIME magazine: Inside the World's Most Humane Prison
- The Guardian: Inside Halden, the most humane prison in the world
- The Economist: Too many prisons make bad people worse. There is a better way - The world can learn from how Norway treats its offenders
- The Atlantic: How Long Can Connecticut's Prison Reform Last?
- The New York Times: The Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison - The goal of the Norwegian penal system is to get inmates out of it.
- Business Insider: I toured prisons around the world — and the system that seems the most relaxed is also one that works
- Yles: The Norden: “Why don´t you just give them the keys?”
- Reuters: Mass killer Breivik to study at Oslo University, from jail
- Inverse: “Companion dog acquisition” has a scientifically proven benefit
Books from the Episode
Videos from the Episode
- TEDx Talks: Lesson from a Governor - Prepare prisoners for life outside, Tom Eberhardt
- YouTube clip from “Where to invade next” (2015) featuring Tom Eberhardt being interviewed by Michael Moore
- YouTube: Bad Boys' Island - BASTØY
- YouTube: The Norden - Nordic Prisons - James Conway, retired Superintendent from Attica Correctional Facility in New York, visits four Nordic Prisons.
- Prison Dogs: A story of love, loss, and redemption, this documentary focuses on the impact of a unique dog training program that gives two of the most marginalized populations in our society — prison inmates and veterans — a second chance. Trailer (Rent of Vimeo)
Critical acclaim: nominated for three Emmy Awards (has won two) and has been nominated twice for the Academy Award (winning once), and has also won three Peabody Awards.
- YouTube (CNN): Prison inmate: We get puppies, ice cream and flower
Studies from the Episode
- Relapse Study in the Correctional Services of the Nordic Countries : Key Results and Perspectives - Research paper comparing recidivism rates in the Scandinavian countries
- University of Michigan: Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases - Heated floors, sauna, tennis courts, horseback riding and five-star cooking classes.
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This podcast looks at innovators and companies that are changing the game and how they took their initial idea and created a game-changing product or service, while giving you unique perspectives and insights you’ve probably haven’t heard elsewhere.
David and his guests discuss real-world practical advice on how to best harness the creativity of your employees and go from idea to product or service that has the potential to radically transform your business.
They also share lessons they’ve learned along the way to effectively accelerate, incubate and scale innovations within small, medium and large enterprises, all while separating hype from reality and replacing bullshit bingo with common sense.
The show is hosted by David C. Luna, author, keynote speaker and founder of GAMMA Digital & Beyond.
The Innovational Correctness Podcast by GAMMA Digital & Beyond, David C. Luna is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at gammabeyond.com/en/podcast/. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting us here.