Yet another way the Scandinavians are eons ahead of us in terms of social civility.
Hereâ€™s an island prison thatâ€™s about as distant in principle from Alcatraz as is it in location. Bastoey Island, about 45 miles south of Oslo, hosts some of Norwayâ€™s worst offenders in what is effectively an eco-village working holiday camp. Instead of the traditional barred cells, prisoners, including murderers, rapists, drug dealers and thieves, live in separate, unlocked houses on the island. Although only one and a half miles from the mainland, prisoners are reluctant to escape, lest they get returned to the typical maximum security unit and lose the privilege of serving their time where theyâ€™re learning valuable skills, as well as gaining respect for themselves, each other, and the environment.
The island prison uses solar panels, is almost self-sufficient with food from its own organic garden, and operates a strict recycling system. This is an interesting experiment in eco-therapy â€” where reconnecting offenders with nature may well also help develop a noble sense of purpose, that in turn helps them reconnect with society.