Center on Sentencing and Corrections

How Norway’s Prisons Are Different From America’s

How Norway’s Prisons Are Different From America’s

This video, produced by NowThis, features a 2019 Vera Institute of Justice learning trip to two prisons in Norway. Prison reform advocates, researchers, and US correctional leaders from Washington state and Louisiana who attended learned more about the Norwegian approach to corrections through visits to Halden Prison and Ila Detention and Security Prison. NowThis summarizes Norway’s journey to creating a more humane prison system and outlines the main differences between prison operations in Norway and the United States. Through the lens of both an incarcerated man and correctional staff, the clip explores day-to-day life at Halden Prison—dubbed the world’s “most humane” maximum security facility. The video presents four core ideals that govern the Norwegian prison system—which influences everything from prison architectural design and the way incarcerated people live to the duties of “contact officers” or correctional staff within facilities:

  • Normality
  • Human Dignity
  • Dynamic Security
  • Reintegration into the community

Though the video does not specifically mention the use of segregation or solitary confinement, the reliance on these principles in Norwegian prisons results in the rare use of segregation, at much lower rates than within typical U.S. prisons.

Click here to read a blog post by one of the trip’s participants.

Click here to read more about Vera’s learning trips.

Click here to view a Marshall Project article about other corrections agencies implementing reforms based on Norway’s system.

Keywords: WADOC, LADOC, LDPSC, Sinclair, LeBlanc, Solitary Watch, documentary, film, Nordic, dignity, humanity.