I believe that prisons should be for the rehabilitation of people that have committed crimes, in order for them to rejoin society. Instead, prison is a place where we punish them and treat them no better than animals. Prisons were meant to imprison and rehabilitate, not to punish. Our centers are called correction centers not punishment centers. While the prison system is different in each country, when comparing the systems of Canada to those of Norway, ours looks cruel and unjust.
The first subject of the prison system I’d like to discuss, are the living quarters for prisoners. Many prisons in Canada are cramped cells that a person can barely stretch out in. The cells have plain sheets and a metal toilet to go to the washroom. The inmates are kept behind metal bars and they have one or sometimes no windows in their cell. Also, very few prisons provide a book or television for their inmates. The Canadian prison system has obviously designed prison living quarters to make inmates feel sad, weak, and miserable and like a trapped animal. This is outrageous, treating our own people like animals. On the other hand, Norwegian prisons have much higher standards of living for their inmates. Prison cells in Norway are like college dorms. They are spacious, have a comfortable bed and oftentimes have a huge window. They can also have things like family pictures in their room. Inmates in Norwegian prisons can play video games, watch TV and read the newspaper. In addition, some prisons have recording studios and libraries as nice as those you would find in a normal suburban library. The Norwegian prisons have designed the living quarters for in mates to make them feel like they are at home and can act normally. If I were to choose a prison to stay at for a day I would choose one in Norway, wouldn’t you? In my opinion, prisons shouldn’t make the inmate feel sad or weak, but instead feel safe and provide opportunities for rehabilitation eventually rejoin society.
The next factor is the interaction between inmates and guards. In Canadian prisons, the guards take advantage of the inmates. They sometimes put them in solitary and abuse them mentally and physically. The inmates in Canadian prisons also often get in fights with each other over different things. Canadian prisons don’t have a good atmosphere to them. The Canadian prisons punish the criminals again, as shown when the guards take advantage of them. The rates of suicide are also high in Canadian prisons. This is wrong because prisons should be for rehabilitation. Prisons aren’t meant to punish. The Norwegian prisons offer friendlier interactions between inmates and guards. The guards will play and chat with the inmates, treating them with the dignity all humans deserve. Also, the inmates don’t attack each other and there aren’t any violent interactions. This kind of atmosphere in Norwegian prisons is exactly what all prison systems should be.
Another factor to consider is how the guards are armed in the two different prison systems. In the Canadian prisons, guards are armed with rifles and pistols when on watch. This is very intimidating and scary because this means that the prison guards are prepared to kill inmates trying to escape. Prison guards in Norway on the other hand aren’t armed with lethal weapons. Guards in Norway are trained in verbal de-escalation techniques. Finally, it is human nature to want to escape from a prison that makes a person feel sad, weak and angry. The Norway Prisons encourage a person to stay so they can reflect on their misdemeanor, while Canadian Prisons make the inmate want to escape. With this kind of method that Norway prisons use, inmates will be less likely to want to break out.
The final factor is education. In Canadian prisons, prisoners do get an education. Inmates in Canadian prisons can continue to study while in prison, but cannot study to get any college or university level degrees. In Norwegian prisons, the inmates can get an education. The inmates can even get degrees, so that when they are released, they have a higher chance of getting a job because of their degree. Norwegian prisons also allow the prisoners to vote. The candidates for elections actually come to the prison and debate in front of the inmates. I think this is great. The inmates in Norwegian prisons still get a say and are not cast aside unlike in Canadian prisons. Also, letting inmates get degrees can decrease recidivism rates because former inmates will be less likely to commit a second crime when they are successful and have a job.
The Norwegian prison system of dealing with inmates humanely, including comfortable living quarters and positive guard relationships, if applied to the Canadian prison system could lower recidivism rates, suicide rates and assault rates in our prisons. The prison system in Canada needs to improve. I believe Norway is a role model for what all prison systems should be like; fair, humane and rehabilitative environments for people who have committed transgressions to learn from their mistakes and shift back into society. Canada needs prison reforms now!