View Full Version : Prison conditions relative to effectiveness

2nd Jun 2012, 09:33
Norway's prisons have come under world scrutiny since Breivik's attacks, with some arguing that sites like Bastoy, where prisoners have the key to their own rooms and access to a sauna, a beach and woods, are essentially holiday camps for criminals.

But Norwegians argue that the system works, with only 20 per cent of prisoners reoffending, compared with 50 per cent to 60 per cent in Britain

The above was quoted at the end of the Breivik thread I started -http://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/486977-norwegian-prison-p

I find the last paragraph very surprising: can anybody with an interest in penal systems tell me if it is likely to be true as it stands or is there lots of small print e.g. exactly who is classified as a prisoner etc etc.

If true though, I would need to re-think my ideas on the value of prisons as we know them in most other countries but have to say I remain a little sceptical as the - reportedly - good conditions ( tv's , gyms etc , especially for young prisoners ) are doing nothing to stem the tide of vicious,greedy cretins currently being processed.

tony draper
2nd Jun 2012, 09:42
Just been a item on RT about the phenominal cost of keeping hundreds prisoners on death row for decades in America,endless appeals ect,it has become something of a industry, so places like California are giving thought to scrapping the death sentence to save money.
Hmmm,I can think of another much more rapid solution,Old Albert could do about twenty a day.

2nd Jun 2012, 10:51
the phenominal cost of keeping hundreds prisoners on death row for decades in America,
Couldn't they export them to China? - I'm sure it would be cheaper there.

2nd Jun 2012, 11:23
The Abolition of Liberty: The Decline of Order and Justice in England

An outstanding book which has a lot to say about the prison system and how the whole 'justice' system has been taken over by simpering left-wing fluffies.

Load Toad
2nd Jun 2012, 11:27
...are doing nothing to stem the tide of vicious,greedy cretins currently being processed.

Have you ever been to prison? How do you know it's 'cushy' - apart from reading the Daily Mail?

We've had years & years of putting people into prison for sometimes 'petty' crimes (smoking weed being the most obvious) & it's done nothing good.

Maybe it's time to rethink.

Make it harder to incarcerate criminals (but find plenty of other ways they can pay back for their crimes). Look at what crimes actually need prison sentences.

Make prison damn hard for the habitual offenders & the downright evil but keep people out of prison (& employed & paying tax) so they aren't a drain on our resources.

green granite
2nd Jun 2012, 11:55
Make prison damn hard for the habitual offenders & the downright evil

Chain them together and send them out to fill in potholes in the roads etc, that would be very useful and save money as well.

2nd Jun 2012, 13:17
[quote] Load Toad
We've had years & years of putting people into prison for sometimes 'petty' crimes (smoking weed being the most obvious) & it's done nothing good.

Maybe it's time to rethink. [quote ]

Yeah, the Poms already have, seems it is now considered a more serious crime to verbally assault someone than physically assault them, or commit an act of theft, burgulary or property damage.................:yuk::yuk:

Woman jailed for 21 weeks over racist Tube rant seen on YouTube | Mail Online (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151576/Woman-jailed-21-weeks-racist-Tube-rant-seen-YouTube.html)

Frankly I hope the scum that are mollycoddled by the huggy fluffie lefties, go on the rampage during the Olympics and give the UK an even worse reputation by their actions against visitors...............maybe then the reality will sink in, nah, that's too much to hope for.

Load Toad
2nd Jun 2012, 13:28
What a charming wish - crime to effect innocent sports fans.

Interesting attitude and perspective - if that's the opposite of a leftie - send me the huggers cos you fellah are plain freakshow.

2nd Jun 2012, 13:37
LT, can you suggest any rational way for the UK to ascend to the level of civilization that is found in , say, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden et al ?

Denial isn't working .

2nd Jun 2012, 13:37
send me the huggers
You're most welcome to them. Would you care to charter a few 380s in very dense configuration to operate about 100 flights? That would get rid of about 50,000 and would be a good start.

Load Toad
2nd Jun 2012, 13:49
Better education, higher taxation for the rich & Corporations (and plug the loopholes that exist in paying tax). Less centralized government, certain protection of industry through implementation of higher 'quality' standards and an end to the 'loss leader' practice run by 'big retail', the end of the drug war farce by replacing the crime & punishment aspect with 'education & treatment' (not condoning drug use by the way). Tougher sentences for violent crime, organised crime and tax dodgers. More community work and liberty restriction through tagging for non-violent crime with increasing sentence severity for repeat offences. More adult education...

Just a start whilst I fill A380's with these terrible 'lefties' for the authoritarian brigade that think laws and empathy are only for other people.

2nd Jun 2012, 14:09
" Better education, higher taxation for the rich & Corporations (and plug the loopholes that exist in paying tax). Less centralized government, certain protection of industry through implementation..........................."

All your suggestions are opposed by the lefties......................


2nd Jun 2012, 14:33
Alpine, while you can´t seamlessly compare a small, rich country like Norway with larger ones like the UK or the USA, the low recidivism number here has been scrutinized very carefully by many people who do not approve of the Norwegian system. As far as I am aware, they have never found the numbers to lie.
The low 20% re-offending rate appears to be true.

The system here goes against what is deemed logical and desirable by many people in other countries. And it is not undisputed here either. But it is very much in line with what the majority of Norwegians believe is the best way to run their society. In line with how they view the human condition, and the best way to have both a workable society and incite individuals to be productive, free and content citizens.

From a Time magazine article (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2000920,00.html#ixzz1we64cqil):

In an age when countries from Britain to the U.S. cope with exploding prison populations by building ever larger — and, many would say, ever harsher — prisons, Bastoy seems like an unorthodox, even bizarre, departure. But Norwegians see the island as the embodiment of their country's long-standing penal philosophy: that traditional, repressive prisons do not work, and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society. "People in other countries say that what Norway does is wrong," says Lars, who is serving a 16-year sentence for serious drug offenses. "But why does Norway have the world's lowest murder rate? Maybe we're doing something that really works."

If you are interested, there is a lot about Bastøy on youtube; this is one example:

Green granite, Tableview and tony draper; do you have any facts, statistics or studies to back up your claims that harsher conditions and longer sentences are more effective than what is done in Norway?

Someone who has actually made a study of the matter:
John Pratt, a professor of criminology at New Zealand's Victoria University of Wellington and an authority on Scandinavian prisons, believes that the secret to the low crime levels in Norway and its Nordic counterparts is strong welfare systems that reduce poverty and inequality — key drivers of criminality. Studies show that countries and states investing more in education, health and social security typically spend less on their prison systems. Last year, California spent 11% of its state budget on its prisons — more than it put into higher education. "For marginalized populations in Anglo countries, the prison increasingly acts as a kind of surrogate welfare state," says Pratt. "That's not only much more expensive than running a welfare state, it's also brutalizing and often degrading — and that has negative consequences for everyone."

The Norwegian system works for Norway, while the USA and UK systems do not appear to work for either of those countries.

Of course you can´t just transplant an entire system from one country to another, but with the USA and British systems failing so spectacularly, is not worth at least considering a system that actually works?

Load Toad
2nd Jun 2012, 14:35
Did I ever say I was 'a leftie'...? I couldn't care less for the traditional political labels - they are outdated and obsolete.

Policies that work; not ideologies that don't.

2nd Jun 2012, 14:50
" Just a start whilst I fill A380's with these terrible 'lefties' for the authoritarian brigade that think laws and empathy are only for other people."

Sounds as if you are a " leftie " sympathiser.....................:p

green granite
2nd Jun 2012, 15:52
Judd, a lot of our offenders steal to keep themselves and their girl friend in fags and booze, the state pays for the house they occupy along with their half a dozen or so kids that they didn't really want but are too thick to understand contraception. If they get put away for a couple of years they look upon it as a holiday away from their nagging 'bitch' and screaming kids.

If, once inside, they were made to work doing something useful such as repairing roads or something else that needs very little skill for 8hrs a day 5 days a week then they might not be so keen to get banged up again.

tony draper
2nd Jun 2012, 16:11
Never said nowt about harsh prisons Madam Juud,:confused: one only suggests they carry out the sentence ie the scragging within the hour of it being uttered,save them a lorra money that would,even buying a new rope for each.

2nd Jun 2012, 17:54
I was on a training course where our instructor was a teacher who teaches prisoners. He mentioned that more than 70% of prisoners are unable to read & write. We (a group of school governors) were astonished. This one statistic has much to say about criminality. Our Prosecutor daughter says that criminals think in a markedly different way to ordinary folk and I cast my mind back to junior school and the weird, ragamuffins of the C Stream.

2nd Jun 2012, 18:04
The verdict

Let’s put it like this: an MP elected to the last Parliament was four times more likely to be jailed than the average Briton.

We won't get harder jails while the above is true!!

FactCheck: Casting an Eye over Westminster’s jailbirds | The FactCheck Blog (http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-casting-an-eye-over-westminsters-jailbirds/6685)

2nd Jun 2012, 18:05
do you have any facts, statistics or studies to back up your claims that harsher conditions and longer sentences are more effective than what is done in Norway? I have no doubt that as you could find statistics and studies proving your contention, so could I find some proving mine. We all know that these things are written to prove or disprove political agendas, and that the measuring posts are movable.

The point really is that in some countries, prison is a softer and better option than home life. It should be a harsh punishment and as such a deterrent to crime. A liberal system may be more 'effective' in rehabilitating, but it will never be 100%, and comes at a huge cost to society, whereas in the case of serious criminals 25,000 volts, or a length of rope, or a shot of sodium pentathol, are 100% effective and relatively cheap. And a damn good deterrent, when backed up of course by proper policing, detecting, and sentencing.

2nd Jun 2012, 20:49
Tableview, there is no data supporting even a single one of your assertions.
You are just plain wrong on every point.
Harsher punishment is not a more effective crime deterrent. Look it up for yourself.

As for the death penalty; the only first world country that still has it is the USA. The system that has grown up around it, as in the endless appeals, is far more costly to society than having a convict serve a long prison sentence.

A justice system that is only about revenge and punishment appears to be more expensive and less effective than a system that focuses on rehabilitation.

Why then not at least take a careful look at it, and seriously consider its merits?

2nd Jun 2012, 21:32
[quote] green granite
Judd, a lot of our offenders steal to keep themselves and their girl friend in fags and booze, the state pays for the house they occupy along with their half a dozen or so kids that they didn't really want but are too thick to understand contraception. If they get put away for a couple of years they look upon it as a holiday away from their nagging 'bitch' and screaming kids.

It would be a good idea to sterilize those offenders, to prevent the perpetration of a sub species that are only a parasitic burden to society .

Metro man
3rd Jun 2012, 00:00
Norwegian prisons provide 5* luxury for their residents.

Inside Halden, the most humane prison in the world | Society | The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/18/halden-most-humane-prison-in-world)

Amelia Gentleman
guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 May 2012 21.48 BST
Comments (172)

Halden is one of Norway’s highest-security jails, holding rapists, murderers and paedophiles. Photographs: Gughi Fassino
Halden prison smells of freshly brewed coffee. It hits you in the workshop areas, lingers in the games rooms and in the communal apartment-style areas where prisoners live together in groups of eight. This much coffee makes you hungry, so a couple of hours after lunch the guards on Unit A (a quiet, separated wing where sex offenders are held for their own protection) bring inmates a tall stack of steaming, heart-shaped waffles and pots of jam, which they set down on a checked tablecloth and eat together, whiling away the afternoon.

The other remarkable thing is how quiet the prison is. There isn't any of the enraged, persistent banging of doors you hear in British prisons, not least because the prisoners are not locked up much during the day. The governor, Are Høidal, is surprised when I ask about figures for prisoner attacks on guards, staff hospitalisations, guard restraints on prisoners, or prisoner-on-prisoner assaults. I*explain that British prisons are required to log this data, and that the last prison I visited had a*problem with prisoners melting screws into plastic pens, to use as stabbing weapons; he looks startled, says there isn't much violence here and he can't remember the last time there was a fight.

Halden is one of Norway's highest-security jails, holding rapists, murderers and paedophiles. Since it opened two years ago, at a cost of 1.3bn*Norwegian kroner (£138m), it has acquired a reputation as the world's most humane prison. It is the flagship of the Norwegian justice system, where the focus is on*rehabilitation rather than*punishment.

There was early speculation that Anders Breivik, currently on trial in Oslo for the murder of 77 people, might end up here, given that there are few high-security options across Norway, but that now looks unlikely, at least for the first chunk of his sentence. If he is judged to be sane, he will probably remain in isolation in the Ila prison where he is currently being held, a former Nazi concentration camp with a less utopian vision. However, the underlying ethos of Halden prison gives an insight into Norwegian attitudes towards justice, one that is under scrutiny as the country assesses how to deal with Breivik.

When Halden opened, it attracted attention globally for its design and its relative splendour. Set in a forest, the prison blocks are a model of minimalist chic. Høidal lifts down from his office wall a framed award for best interior design, a*prize given in recognition of the stylishness of the white laminated tables, tangerine leather sofas and elegant, skinny chairs dotted all over the place. At times, the environment feels more Scandinavian boutique hotel than class A prison.

The hotel comparison comes up frequently. Høidal is just back from visiting a British prison and had to stay a night in a hotel off Oxford Street. Happily for the hotel, he can't remember the name, but he noticed his room was certainly smaller and probably less nice than the cells in Halden. Every Halden cell has a flatscreen television, its own toilet (which, unlike standard UK prison cells, also has a door) and a shower, which comes with large, soft, white towels. Prisoners have their own fridges, cupboards and desks in bright new pine, white magnetic pinboards and huge, unbarred windows overlooking mossy forest scenery.

"There was much focus on the design," Høidal says. "We wanted it to be light and positive."

Obviously the hotel comparison is a stupid one, since the problem with being in prison, unlike staying in a hotel, is that you cannot leave. Even if*the prison compound has more in common with a*modern, rural university campus, with young and enthusiastic staff (who push themselves around the compound on fashionable, silver two-wheel scooters), the key point about it is that hidden behind the silver birch trees is a*thick, tall concrete wall, impossible to scale.

Given the constraints of needing to keep 245 high-risk people incarcerated, creating an environment that was as unprisonlike as possible was a priority for Høidal and the prison's architects. "The architecture is not like other prisons," Høidal says. "We felt it shouldn't look like a prison. We wanted to create normality. If you can't see the wall, this could be anything, anywhere. The life behind the walls should be as much like life outside the walls as possible."

This principle is governed in part by a key feature of the Norwegian sentencing system, which has no life sentences and stipulates a*maximum term of 21 years.

"Everyone who is imprisoned inside Norwegian prisons will be released – maybe not Breivik, but everyone else will go back to society. We look at what kind of neighbour you want to have when they come out. If you stay in a box for a few years, then you are not a good person when you come out. If you treat them hard… well, we don't think that treating them hard will make them a*better man. We don't think about revenge in the Norwegian prison system. We have much more focus on rehabilitation. It is a long time since we had fights between inmates. It is this building that makes softer people."

Prisoners are unlocked at 7.30am and locked up for the night at 8.30pm. During the day they are encouraged to attend work and educational activities, with a daily payment of 53 kroner (£5.60) for those who leave their cell. "If you have*very few activities, your prisoners become more aggressive," Høidal says. "If they are sitting all day, I don't think that is so good for a person. If*they are busy, then they are happier. We try not*to let them get institutionalised."

‘We don’t think about revenge in the Norwegian prison system,' says governore Are Høidal, 'we have much more focus on rehabilitation.’
The role of the prison guard is very different from that in the UK. While officers in Britain get a few weeks' training, Norwegians will have completed a two-year university course, with an emphasis on human rights, ethics and the law. At*Halden there are 340 staff members (including teachers and healthcare workers) to the 245 male inmates. Staff are encouraged to mingle with inmates, talking to them, counselling them, working with them to combat their criminality. A great deal of attention is given to making sure people have homes and jobs to go to when they leave, and that family ties are maintained. (There is a well-stocked chalet-style house for prisoners to receive overnight visits from their families.) "We have many more prison officers than prisoners. They are talking about why they are here, what problems got them into this criminality. Our role is to help them and to guard them. The prison governor role in Norway is unique. They are meant to be coach, motivator, a*role model for the inmates."

The regime is expensive – approximately 3,000 kroner (£320) a night, compared with around 2,000 (£213) at the more basic, older Norwegian institutions, such as the Oslo prison where inmates are often locked up for 23 out of 24 hours, but it is cheaper than Ila, where the guard count is higher and the cost 4,000 kroner (£426) a night. A year in Halden costs the state around £116,000, while the average cost of a place in the UK is £45,000.

Cost is only one of the reasons prison reformers in the UK don't think there's any prospect of the Halden model being adopted here. We have double the number of prisoners that Norway has (around 140 per 100,000 in England and Wales, to Norway's 74.8), and having a smaller prison population makes things simpler for the Norwegian state. Halden is so new, there are no figures yet for how swiftly and frequently prisoners drift back into prison after their release, but nationwide Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in Europe, just 20% after two years, compared with around 50% in England. Partly that's down to the prison system, but it's also the result of a much better welfare system. There is little popular appetite for softening the prison regime in this country. The justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, may have stated, "It is just very, very bad value for taxpayers' money to keep warehousing them in overcrowded prisons where most of them get toughened up", but his early commitment to tackling rising prison numbers was not well-received.

The large amount of money and thought lavished on inmates at Halden doesn't stop them (politely) expressing their dislike of the place and their desire to leave as soon as possible. An*elderly prisoner, with terminal cancer, serving a long sentence for drug smuggling, is in the craft room, crocheting a toy teddy bear with no enthusiasm for his task. He concedes that Halden smells better than other prisons he has been in, because it doesn't have the mildewed odour of the old buildings, or the deep stench of bodies squeezed together in close confinement. "The only thing that is nice is the building," he says. "People think that you are staying in a five-star hotel, but prison is prison. They lock you up."

Kent, a 43-year-old office manager serving a*three-year sentence for a violent attack, is sitting in the prison's mixing studio, where prisoners record music and make a programme that is broadcast monthly by the local radio station. He has formed a band with three other inmates and two guards, and performs regularly for fellow inmates. Leaning back in his swivel chair, sipping at his coffee and fiddling with his red baseball cap, he admits he's enjoying being able to focus on his music, but says, "The Halden prison has been compared to the finest hotel. That's the impression my friends and parents have from reading the papers. It is not true. The real issue is freedom, which is taken away from you. That is the worst thing that can happen to you. When the door slams at night, you're sat there in a small room. That's always a tough time."

He has children aged 10 and 12. "I think about them 24/7. I speak to them three times a week for 30 minutes, but there is so much to say, so much I*need to be doing for them. I think I'm never going to commit another crime. Freedom means so much to me."

There is some annoyance from staff at the focus on the buildings, rather than on the principle of rehabilitation that drives the prison. "One politician when it opened said, 'I could live here for a year, no problem.' But he was in the cell for two minutes," says Janne Offerdal, who teaches English to the inmates (mainly to foreign nationals caught smuggling drugs into the country; the Norwegian prisoners all speak impeccable English). "They compare the facilities with the elderly prisons. But if you are building a new building now, you wouldn't build an old one."

Høidal is bemused by the popular fascination with the prisoners' flatscreen TVs, pointing out that it's now impossible to buy the older models. "I don't call the cells luxurious. It's 10 square metres, a toilet, a shower, that's all."

No one is thrilled to arrive here. The reception officer explains that the most positive reaction is one of relief. When they are brought in, "some of them are crying," he says. "They don't know what they're going to do with their dog. There are aggressive people who are high on drugs, or withdrawing from drugs, which is not always easy to deal with. It's only the older guys who've been in other prisons who are happy to be in Halden."

As we walk around the compound, an inmate comes up to ask Høidal, "Can we have a*swimming pool?" He laughs, and remembers the shock of a Russian prison governor who visited recently and was horrified to see that the inmates didn't stand to attention when Høidal came past but instead clustered around him, seizing the chance to list their complaints.

Halden has an award for its interior design. At times, the environment feels more Scandinavian boutique hotel than class A prison.
There are no plans for a swimming pool, but Høidal does want to make a jogging track through the woods, and a young sports teacher (who is working on specialised programmes for recovering drug addicts) says he hopes to start rock climbing lessons in the summer.

I wonder if it's a good idea to teach inmates how to scale rock faces, but he responds with hurt amazement. "There would be no security risk. I*wouldn't be teaching them how to escape." So*far there have been no escapes, or attempts.

The sports centre is focused on team sports, especially football. There are a few bits of training equipment, but no weights, because Høidal doesn't approve of them: "I see the negative of focusing too much on muscles. It is a violent thing."

The inmates tell Høidal they're annoyed by recent changes to the routine, but they are respectful when they address him. He listens politely, agrees that in prison minor irritations can become major frustrations, but remarks that people outside the building would laugh at the trivial nature of their complaints.

In the winter, when the compound was covered in snow, one of the inmates went outside and stamped around for a while. Looking out from the staff canteen later, guards noticed he'd written Help Me with his footprints. A UK prisoner might set fire to his cell; even these appeals for attention are done in the most non-aggressive manner.

I see only one piece of prisoner graffiti, a rather half-hearted scribble on an A4 printed notice (to avoid causing permanent damage): "**** the rules" (only the pen has stopped working, so all that's really legible is **** the r). Otherwise, there is the prison-sanctioned graffiti, the recurring logo of a convict in striped uniform, apparently about to hurl his ball and chain to the wind, which decorates the yard walls and toilet doors, and was commissioned at considerable expense from the Norwegian graffiti artist Dolk, out of the prison's 6m kroner (£640,000) art budget.

Huge, blown-up photographs of daffodils, Parisian street scenes or Moroccan tiles cover the corridors. Høidal doesn't have a clear answer to whether the pictures have a positive effect on inmate behaviour, but says that whenever a state building is opened in Norway, 1% of the construction budget goes on art.

One wild-eyed ex-amphetamine addict slaps Høidal on the back, tells him he is a good man, but says he misses his old prison, Oslo, where he served an earlier sentence. Drugs were more of a problem in that jail, he adds wistfully. Høidal agrees that the style of Halden prison, with the relentless presence of guards wanting to talk and help inmates, does not suit everyone. "Some people don't like them being around all the time. If you want drugs, then you prefer Oslo prison."

Another prisoner, living in the relative seclusion of Unit A, where he is a year into a sentence for sexual abuse of a minor, pays tribute to the humanity of the prison staff (as opposed to that of the fellow prisoners, who, when they found out what he was in prison for, announced they were going to dismember him). "The people who work here don't look down on you," he says. Compared with the 1850s Eidsberg prison, where he was before, Halden is a relief: "Being there and being here, it's like heaven and hell."

Two prison officers are sitting with the eight prisoners on A-block, encouraging them to knit woollen hats. One also has expensive oil canvases for them to experiment with, but there isn't much appetite for either activity, so once the waffles are finished, they return to playing a card game.

The civility between staff and inmates is noticeable everywhere. Information for new inmates is translated into English for those who do not speak Norwegian. The text is apologetic about the possibility that they may have to wait before they are transferred to a cell, and concludes: "We hope you have understanding for any waiting and hope to help you as soon as possible. With best regards, the reception officers."

Maybe I'm not there long enough to sense latent anger or profound despair, but Halden doesn't feel like a place where you have to look over your shoulder. An official in the healthcare division says up to 40% of inmates will be taking sleeping pills, and between 10% and 20% are on anti-depressants, but overall the atmosphere is calm.

Though food is provided by the prison, inmates can buy ingredients to make their own meals. The prison shop has wasabi paste for those who want to make sushi. You can buy garam masala, vanilla pods or halva, and there is prime fillet of beef at 350 kroner (£37) a kilo, which prisoners club together to buy when they want to make a special meal. The most frequently borrowed books in the library are cookbooks. Most prisoners' fridges are full of yoghurt drinks and cheeses; a couple say they've put on weight since they arrived.

At 3pm, a table is set for 10, with white china plates, glasses and white paper napkins, in the drug rehabilitation unit, where Robert, 45 and an ex-addict and dealer, is living. Some prisoners are sitting on the brown woollen sofas watching the communal television. It looks like an advertisement for a family ski-chalet, complete with beautiful forest views. This is the main meal of the day; afterwards, between four and five prisoners will be locked in their cells for an hour to give the prison guards time for a break, then there will be free time until lock-up at 8.30pm.

Occasionally the prisoners talk of the Breivik trial, which is closely followed on television. On the whole they don't believe the liberal regime from which they benefit should be extended to him. "He couldn't stay in a place like this," Robert says. "If I saw him, I would knock him down. I'm a nice prisoner but I would do it and I would brag about it. Everybody wants to take him out."

A fellow inmate, Patrick, serving a 12-year sentence for drug smuggling, was one of two prisoners who organised a prison-wide collection to buy flowers for the victims of Breivik's attack. Everyone gave up their daily wage of 53 kroner (£5.60); even the prime minister was moved by the gesture. "It was horrible, the thing that happened, and we felt helpless," Patrick says. "We wanted to do something. I was surprised that it got so much media attention; I was surprised that people thought, 'You're prisoners, but you are so nice.' We are also human beings. We also have daughters, sisters, children."

Høidal says, with some relief, that if Breivik is ever transferred to Halden, it won't be for at least a decade, by which point he will have retired. Although special arrangements may have to be made for the first stage of Breivik's incarceration, he believes the Norwegian principles of fair and liberal punishment will not be threatened by the atrocity. In the days after the attack, the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg, said, "We are shaken but we will not give up our values. Our response is more freedom, more democracy."

Høidal echoes his words: "If it happens again, then maybe we will have another discussion about the system. For the moment, I don't think that this case will change Norwegian thinking."

3rd Jun 2012, 00:27
The legal system in the UK exists to keep barristers, lawyers and solicitors in jobs. Appeal after appeal only serves to line the pockets of those in wigs with money from the public purse.

A large proportion of MPs in the UK come from a legal background. They continue to make policy which feeds the legal system with cases, whether it be illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, rioters, or, when even those cases don't generate enough business, new regulations to criminalise innocent activities of the ordinary man.

A society in which a large proportion of the population have no hope of earning more than a minimum wage, a society in which people see the taxes they pay on their meagre earnings being used to feed the parasites in the legal system, a society which keeps people who have contributed nothing to this country in the lap of luxury, a society in which the rich get richer by cutting the wages of the lowliest workers each time a contract is renegotiated, is asking for trouble.

To make people to be law abiding, first give them hope.