Halden Prison in Norway started operating in 2010. It can accommodate up to 252 prisoners, who live in prisoner cells equipped with flat-screen TV. Prison officials say that the TV is a distraction for the prisoners that can prevent them from using drugs. They also lavish prisoners with mini-fridges, designer furniture, and en suite bathrooms.
Check out the following photos, all taken in 2010, and they might change the connotation of the term “prison.”
#1 Art is essential in lightening the burden of imprisonment.
Halden Prison was designed with art in mind. They spent around $1 million on photography, paintings, and lights alone, this mural included. Prison officials believe that the inmates are encouraged to take wood workshops and painting classes.
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#2 Prison cells should look as normal as possible.
Since Norway only penalizes inmates up to 21 years, even for heinous crimes like murder, all their prisoners eventually have to be sent back to society. This is why prison cells are designed to look like the outside world. The prison even has flat-screen TVs, en-suite bathrooms covered in ceramic tiles, and mini-fridges. These are conveniences usually not found in prisons in other countries.
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#3 Everything is colorful inside.
While the prison’s exteriors are mostly brown hues to match the woodlands around it, the interiors come alive with colors. It boasts of 18 colors to encourage different moods in the inmates. For instance, the working areas and the library are painted orange; the cells are covered in green, and the two-bedroom guesthouse intended for conjugal and family visits are painted fiery red.
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#4 Inmates can become recording artists.
To explore the talents of their inmates, Halden Prison even has a recording studio complete with a professional mixing board and in-house music teachers. The inmates learn how to play the guitar, piano, bongos, and other musical instruments.
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#5 Prisoners should feel at home.
You might mistake Halden Prison for a hotel because it does not have prison bars and every 10 to 12 cells have a shared living room and kitchen. Yes, the inmates get to relax and prepare their evening meals.
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#6 Quality health care services are still provided.
The prisoners may not be free, but they do get free health care services. They have access to doctors, dentists, and nurses, who are employed by the local municipality of Halden. The prison has its own small hospital and state-of-the-art dentist’s office, too.
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#7 Designer furniture lessens the monotonous life in prison.
The prison prepares routines for the prisoners and allows them to take courses that will prepare them for employment opportunities as chefs, caterers, and waiters. They do all these using designer furniture to keep the prison alive. You can find these furniture pieces in the work areas, living quarters, and activity centers.
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#8 Free time is hobby time.
The inmates in Halden never get bored when the guards always have activities in store for them from 8am to 8pm. They can play in the basketball court, conquer the jogging trails, test their stamina in the soccer field, and burn energy on the rock-climbing wall. Halden Prison believes that occupied inmates are less likely to cause trouble.
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#9 Trees are everywhere in the prison yard.
When you look at it, it even looks like a small park with stone chess boards, benches, and jogging trails. The architects maintained the trees that the 75-acre prison site already has mainly to block the view of the 20-foot high security wall. It reduces the institutional atmosphere of the prison and allows the inmates to experience the changing of the seasons.
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#10 Prison guards are more than just guards.
Halden’s guards do more than just maintain peace and order in the prison and manage the inmates. They have to complete a two-year training program at an officers’ academy. They are mainly tasked to help the inmates rehabilitate, get enlightened, and find meaning during their sentence. Almost half of the prison guards are female because the governor believed they cause less tension and helps prisoners behave better.