Instead, I’ll assume that our elected officials are sincere in their desire to see fewer of their fellow citizens behind bars and to provide those who are imprisoned with the rehabilitation they need in order to succeed once they’ve served their prison sentences. But, if rehabilitation is indeed the aim of our criminal justice system in the United States, then we are failing miserably at achieving this goal. A recent study of recidivism rates in the United States shows that within five years, three-quarters of released prisoners are rearrested. Any company that had a 76% failure rate would go out of business almost immediately, and yet we continue to use the same dumb approaches to incarceration year in and year out in our American prisons.
But is there another approach that we might want to consider instead, which might actually improve recidivism rate and provide those imprisoned with an environment that can serve them better when they are released into the larger society. A recent article on the approach taken in Norway’s Halden Prison seems to offer just such an enlightened alternative.
The question that we have to ask is whether such an approach would work in the United States and would it lead to more preferable rehabilitation outcomes than the dysfunctional system we currently have in place.
“Big Home: The Strange and Radical Humaneness of Norway’s Halden Prison”