Bastoy Prison

A Top-notch Correctional Facility: Bastøy Prison, Norway

Norway happens to be one of the top livable countries in the world with its national income per capita, level of peacefulness and low level of unemployment, although the weather conditions look tough for most people. There is one thing, though, that is not so tough, when it is compared with other countries, the Norwegian Penal System.

It’s not like we want to go to Norway and go criminally wild but for starters, there is no death penalty in Norway. That’s something most people are familiar with, though.  So, here comes another, technically, there is no life imprisonment in Norway! You got that right, the maximum sentence one could serve in Norway is fixed at 21 years with a maximum of 10 years without parole. However, upon examination, the detention period may be extended 5 years at a time, should the criminal be considered still dangerous to society, which may result in a life imprisonment in theory.

But it’s not over, most convicts in Norway can take the advantage of unsupervised paroles on weekends and may even be released early upon completion of two thirds of their sentences.

Bastoy Prison

Ila Prison, Norway

About that prison, yes, I said a “top-notch correctional facility” and I am well aware of what I said. Because Bastøy Prison, located on Bastøy Island, Norway is pretty much like a working camp that primarily aims for the rehabilitation of criminals, instead of solely isolating them.

The facility is a minimum security type, covering the whole island. But legally speaking, the northern beach on the island is open to public, although it’s not such a popular beach to go. As I said, the primary aim in this prison is rehabilitation and it done by ecological farming, basic workshop duties as well as adopting hobbies. Ecological is the key word here, because all the inmates and the personnel are expected to respect the nature in their actions, and this includes humans as well. The best part is, “guns, drugs and violence” are strictly forbidden in this facility, and this includes THE GUARDS as well!

Let’s take a look at what an inmate can do for work in Bastøy Prison to be paid approximately $10 a day…


The inmates working in the kitchen provide food for the whole facility.

Bastoy Prison

Kitchen Staff

Sales (“The Cellar”)

They can also work in the shop selling snacks or drinks. The shop makes approximately $500,000 annually.


Including stables, a cow barn and forestry.

Bastoy Prison

An inmate working…

Maritime Unit

Inmates can work on a ferry (40,000 passengers a year), a fishing boat or in the shipping office.

Bastoy Prison

Bastoy Prison Maritime Unit

Technical Unit

Repair, maintenance, laundry and cleaning services.

Bastoy Prison

An inmate repairs a bike.

OK, this happens in most prisons and there’s nothing strange about it. But before coming to that, let’s have some brief info about the life in Bastøy Prison. As I said, guns are forbidden for everyone on the island. Plus, there’s no uniform to be worn, both by the inmates and the guards, whose number is not too many. Prisoners can have TV sets in their cells, no, that’s not an accurate word, in their rooms or dorms and all they have to do is to check in twice a day, to make sure nobody escapes. Most inmates live in bungalows with a kitchen while several others eat in the dining hall. Some inmates are even allowed to leave the facility for classes, totally unsupervised. But there’s one strict rule, since it’s still a prison… If you break the rules, you say “Goodbye” to your holiday and get sent to a prison with higher security.

Bastøy prison takes parenting as a model and the administrators think that if you “beat up” your children, you fail as a parent and end up with a problematic child.

“All work and no play make the inmate a dull boy…”

If you say this, you’re wrong, in Bastøy Prison, following a hard day’s work, there’s a lot to do actually…

Bastoy Prison

Right here, yes…

Inmates can go fishing, for example.

Bastoy Prison

A corner of the gym


Or they could go to the gym

Bastoy Prison

The prison climbing wall

Or simply climb

Bastoy Prison

For those who don’t like the Sun…

They could even use the sun bed!

So that’s what Bastøy Prison is. For most people it sounds like a working camp, for some it is even a holiday resort… But I have to mention again, this facility is still a kind of “experiment” which has succeeded so far, but still ongoing. And like it or not, the re-offending rate among those who served their sentences in this prison is only 16%, almost 5 times lower than Europe and the US. Yet, whether this kind of a sentence gladdens victims’ hearts or not is still a wandering question in my mind, although I am in terms with the fact that the primary function of “justice” is not to relieve people.

Tatil Köyü Kalitesinde Bir Hapishane: Bastøy Hapishanesi, Norveç / A Top-notch Correctional Facility: Bastøy Prison, Norway
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Tatil Köyü Kalitesinde Bir Hapishane: Bastøy Hapishanesi, Norveç / A Top-notch Correctional Facility: Bastøy Prison, Norway
Tatil Köyü Kalitesinde Bir Hapishane: Bastøy Hapishanesi, Norveç / A Top-notch Correctional Facility: Bastøy Prison, Norway

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