As anti-Islam extremist Anders Behring Breivik prepares to stand trial for killing 76 people in Oslo and the Utøya island on Friday, journalists are increasingly turning their attention to Norway's unique approach to law enforcement. The Telegraph's Raf Sanchez notes today that Breivik may be sent to Halden Fengsel maximum-security prison (pictured above), where "some of Norway's most hardened criminals, including murderers and rapists" can jog along woodland trails, scale climbing walls, and take cooking courses, while unarmed guards--half of whom are female to create a less aggressive atmosphere--play sports or eat meals with the inmates. The Norwegian prison system focuses on human rights and rehabilitating and reintegrating inmates into society through education and work, Sanchez explains, and there's some evidence that the approach works. "Only around 20 per cent of offenders [are] back behind bars within two years of release, compared to around half of British convicts," he writes. Foreign Policy takes us inside Halden-which has been called the "world's most humane prison"--with a slideshow of prisoners watching flatscreen TVs in their sparkling cells, brushing their teeth in private bathrooms, and playing music in the institution's recording studio.
While the Oslo shooting has proven a catalyst for reexamining the country's humane penal system, this isn't the first time the subject has come up. In May, The Daily Mail turned its gaze on a prison on Bastoy Island (One caption read, "An inmate convicted of murder sunbathes outside the wooden cottage where he lives"). When Halden opened in 2010, several outlets ran stories on the posh prison, and Linescrew Productions put together an infomercial: