A Life Sentence: Norway's Sustainable Prison

A prison on an isolated, icy patch of land, surround by miles of freezing water—and no guards? If you’re like me, right about now you’re thinking of the frozen prison planet where William Shatner and DeForest Kelley were sent after they were framed for the murder of the Klingon ambassador in Star Trek VI.


No? Well, even if you knew what I was babbling about, I can assure you—a social experiment in Norway where prisoners are sent to a remote island to serve out their sentences in eco-friendly isolation is nowhere near as harsh as it sounds. It actually sounds kind of like … camp. Solar panels, wood heat, fresh fish, eco-friendly veggies, and recycling? Sign me up!*

Norway has a sustainable prison! Yes the bucolic oil-rich Scandinavian Shangri-la has decided to do a 10 year test of a prison designed around their idea of “human ecology.” Their philosophy stems from the notion that “living [within] an environment gives them [the inmates] individual responsibility, challenges, and demands [and] can motivate inmates to change their behavior.”

The minimum security Bastoey Prison is located about 21 miles south of the Norwegian capital, Oslo, on an island some 1.5 miles from the mainland. Prisoners must apply to become one of the 115 inmates serving time on the island, and once accepted they remain there to serve out their sentence under no guard. The only buffer is the 1.5 miles of chilly Baltic sea water and the knowledge that should they be caught trying to escape, they will be returned to a not so friendly maximum security prison.

The prison’s sustainable features include: solar panels, wood-fire heating in lieu of oil, strict recycling and eco-friendly food production. Their food is produced by tending fields of organically grown pesticide free vegetables, fishing on the 30′ prison owned boat, and taking care of livestock. Livestock includes 200 chickens, eight horses, 40 sheep, and 20 cows.

Read the whole article here.

*Note to the Norwegian authorities: please don’t actually sign me up.

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