Sweden, which recently made
headlines for closing down four of its prisons in response to
dropping incarceration rates, has been asked to house inmates from
Norway is suffering from an overcrowding problem: there are
currently 1,200 people for whom jail space is needed. So rather
than continue their current policy of releasing criminals,
Norway’s Justice Minister has asked to rent out some of Sweden’s
increasingly spare prison space.
Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen announced on Monday
evening that he had sent a request to his Swedish colleague,
Beatrice Ask, to rent jail space, the state broadcaster NRK
“We cannot live with the situation we have in this
country now. We have long prison queues, and that is why we have
contacted the Swedes to see if it is possible to lease prison
places there,” he told NRK.
Per Clareus, a spokesman for Beatrice Ask, told RT that
the Swedish justice ministry was not yet ready to comment on the
Nordic countries’ penal systems have long enjoyed an
enivable reputation and for good reason: they offer
more livable conditions for inmates and have lower recidivism
rates than in the United States. While Norway’s prison system
has been touted as one of the world’s most
humane though, it still locks up a higher
proportion of its population than does Sweden (71 per
100,000 versus 67 per 100,000,
respectively, according to the latest figures from the
International Centre for Prison Studies). By comparison, the United
inmates per 100,000 people is jaw-droppingly high.
Not only is Sweden’s proportion of citizens in prison low – it’s
dropping. The country’s incarceration rate has been
steadily falling by roughly one percent per year since 2004 and
from 2011 to 2012 it fell by a whopping six percent. Nils Öberg,
the head of the country’s prison and probation services,
expects it to to continue falling.
When asked why Sweden has experienced these declines,
that there is not a clear answer. He hopes it is due, at least in
part, to the system’s strong focus on rehabilitation.
One partial explanation for the sudden drop in admissions may be
that Swedish courts have given more lenient sentences for drug
offences following a ruling of the country’s supreme court in 2011.
According to Öberg, there were about 200 fewer people serving
sentences for drug offences in Sweden last March than a year
Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen
admitted he was unsure whether there are legal avenues in
place that would allow the country to essentially outsource its
prison services. He pointed to a 2009 agreement between Belgium and
the Netherlands that allows Belgium to rent space in Dutch prisons
as a possible model.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/10/outsourcing-prison-norway-asks-sweden-to