Norway’s Halden Prison ranks as one of the most humane prisons in the world — a place where the sole focus is rehabilitation, reported The Huffington Post. Turkey’s Diyarbakir Prison, on the other hand, is described as a facility that completely ignores all basic human rights.
U.S. prisons fall somewhere in the middle when compared to these other prisons. Colorado’s federal Administrative Maximum Facility is an example between the best and worst globally, according to the article.
Contrast that with what Huffington journalist Christopher Zoukis wrote about Norway’s innovative prison: “The sole goal of Halden is rehabilitation, and to that end no expense is spared on art to create a beautiful and inspiring atmosphere, bright and airy cells with enclosed ensuites, bar-free windows, excellent workout facilities, a peaceful treed yard with (chess) boards and benches, and other such niceties.”
“Modern, cheerful, quiet and peaceful,” Halden is a supermax facility housing Norway’s worst offenders, but its guards are “trained to motivate, not intimidate inmates,” Zoukis wrote. “Robust vocational programming, on-site medical and paramedical facilities keep the prisoners’ bodies and minds in good working order.”
Simply known as the ADX, the Administrative Maximum Facility is considered one of America’s most notorious prisons, the article said. Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski is currently housed there. Named in a class-action lawsuit, ADX allegedly misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose many prisoners with severe mental illnesses.
The lawsuit claims that ADX housed prisoners with mental problems in segregated units for disciplinary purposes, denying them mental health treatment. The isolated housing conditions contributed to an increase in mental distress, which the claimants say caused them to act out and ultimately be subject to more severe discipline and continued segregation.
“Attempts at suicide and self-harm were ‘rewarded’ with more punishment,” Zoukis wrote. “… the prison isn’t actually even permitted by law to house such prisoners.”
Diyarbakir in Turkey has a world-renowned reputation for torture, overcrowding, and atrocious living conditions. The 1980s were so horrendous at the prison that that era was labeled its “Period of Barbarity.”
Common tactics included beatings, sexual assault, electrocution, sensory deprivation, being strung up by the arms, and more.
“During the period of barbarity and beyond, hundreds of prisoners have died while incarcerated in Diyarbakir,” Zoukis wrote. “Causes of death include hunger strikes, beatings, self-immolation by fire and ‘mysterious’ deaths during interrogations.”
Norway’s incarceration rate is approximately 75 per 100,000 people, with the lowest recidivism rate in the world at around 20 percent. In the U.S., it is over 700 incarcerated persons per the same 100,000, with more than 70 percent of released prisoners being re-arrested within five years, according to the article.
“The U.S. prison system is certainly in need of reform, but compared to others around the world, it’s not the worst — nor is it the best — system on the planet,” Zoukis wrote.
“Between the two extremes — torture and intimidation versus a focus on education and rehabilitation — which method works best?”