Friday, 29 July 2016


Dostoyevsky said, “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

I was amazed as well as impressed to learn that Norway is known to have one of the best prison systems in the world, and also a relatively low level of crime. Norway’s criminal justice system seems to be doing something extraordinary. Few citizens there go to prison, and those who do usually go only once. When criminals in Norway leave prison, they stay out for good because they are reformed.

Norway has one of the lowest Recidivism rates in the world at 20%. Recidivism is the chronic tendency towards repetition of criminal or anti-social patterns, often after the person has undergone intervention for a previous time.

Whoa ! Aren’t we all curious to know, “How does Norway accomplish this commendable feat?”

Here are some insights into what makes the Norway Prison System so successful:

One of their first key mantras is Rehabilitation v/s Punishment.
This country relies on a concept called “Restorative Justice”, which aims to rehabilitate the prisoners by repairing the harm caused by crime, rather than punishing them. They say that justice for society demands that people released from their prison should be less likely to cause further harm or distress to others, and be better equipped to live as law-abiding citizens.

Even law says, being sent to prison obviously does not mean putting a person in a terrible place to make them suffer. Why should the prison be a place of deprivation and penance? Norway believes that removing people's freedom is enough of a punishment.

They pay attention to the Human Being, and believe that if prisoners are ill-treated, or treated like animals when they are in prison, they are likely to go out and behave like animals.

They have a powerful phrase coined for their prison, “An arena of developing responsibility”

Their prison is considered a penal institution designed to heal rather than harm, and to generate hope instead of despair.

Every prisoner is given trust and responsibility. They are treated with respect, thereby they learn to respect others. Of course they are being watched and monitored all the time. But you don’t change people by using power.

A lot of commitment and work goes behind putting this system into action. Norway’s prison guards undergo two years of extensive training. They are effectively taught to treat the inmates humanely. They believe that if the officers are trained to be harsh, stern, and suspicious, it will ripple outwards in their lives, affecting their own self-image, their families, and even Norway as a whole. They are paying attention to the impact on the collective consciousness. They sure understand transformation.

The official job description for these prison officers and guards says: "They must motivate the inmates so that their sentence is as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible." These guards interact with the prisoners frequently, having meals with them, and even playing sports with them.

The prison authorities say, “There is so much to learn about the people who come to prison. We need to understand how they became criminals, and then guide them to reform and transform.”

Every prisoner has to work. However in their free time, the security guards keep them interestingly and constructively occupied by organizing varied activities, and the inmates can pick any hobbies and vocational programs of their choice.

The prison even has a recording studio with a professional mixing board. The in-house music teachers display remarkable sensitivity by referring to the inmates as ‘pupils’, not ‘prisoners’

Basically their prisons are designed to ease the psychological pressures, mitigate conflict, while also minimizing interpersonal friction. Not just this, they even work with other government agencies to prepare each inmate for the outside world prior to their release, by securing a home, job, and access to a supportive social network for them.

Kudos to the Prison System in Norway.

They sure value and respect the Human Being, believing in giving them a chance gracefully with amazing tolerance and sensitivity. 

As I completed writing this, I heard about the magnanimous gesture of Norway considering shifting border to gift its Nordic neighbor Finland a peak that would become its highest point. This would be their 100th birthday present.

Amazing lessons to be learnt here...  

#FengShuiConsultant  #FifthElement  #LifeCoaching    #LeadershipMentoring  #GoBeyondYourself  #BeUnstoppable 

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