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Project September 11, 2014

Bastøy Prison: Low Security Brings High Benefits in Norway


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Each of these houses on the beautiful island of Bastøy is home to 3-4 prison inmates. The men are placed together to live, work, and build accountable relationships, while carrying out their sentences and preparing for normal life. Image by Britton Nagy. Norway, 2014.

The phrase "prison island" conjures a dark and daunting image reinforced by Hollywood movies, Devil's Island or Alcatraz-like destinations, and historical concepts of harsh confinement. But the prison on the island of Bastøy, just south of Oslo, Norway, tells a different story.

Instead, Bastøy paints a softer picture of human ecology, self-discovery, and rehabilitation. The prison system laden with opportunities for inmates to advance in education, work, and social skills has caught the attention of many—and for good reason. Not only do its prisoners graduate with a renewed sense of self-identity and respect, but they also learn to live and thrive as members of a community.