Support Humane Prisons in the United States

arquia contest 2012 - arquitectitis halden_prison

Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Implement forms of humane prisons in the United States

While American inmates serve their time behind bars with few comforts to call their own, prisoners in Norway have a much different, and arguably more productive, experience. Murderers, rapists, thieves, and common criminals who are sent to humane prisons in Norway are given trust and responsibility. As a result of these iconoclastic reformatories, the reoffending rate in Norway is a mere 16 percent, the lowest in all of Europe. Urge President Barack Obama to implement aspects of these prisons into institutions throughout the United States.

The reason that these “human ecological prisons,” as they have  been called, are so successful is the training they offer to inmates: respecting others, taking responsibility for themselves and their actions, and learning everyday tasks that will assist them when they leave. The loss of liberty is the only punishment prisoners suffer and, because of this, they retain their humanity and grow as industrious citizens. At no additional cost, inmates are allowed to cook, exercise, sunbathe, and swim, as long as they exhibit responsibility and kindness.

But as it remains in the U.S., prisoners are locked in cells to be punished for their crimes and are often abused. Rarely are they treated to overcome criminal tendencies. As a result, many of these prisoners repeat negative behavior once released and return to their cells shortly after.

Bastoy prison island in Norway encourages growth. “You don’t change people by power,” says governor Arne Nilsen. “For the victim, the offender is in prison. That is justice…Here I give prisoners respect; this way we teach them to respect others. But we are watching them all the time. It is important that when they are released they are less likely to commit more crimes. That is justice for society.” Indeed, rehabilitating criminals and training them to live productive lives seems better for society than simply punishing a person for a crime and releasing him back into the world to do the same harm all over again. If prisons do no more than punish, and fail to teach inmates to be responsible and care for others, then something must change. Former inmates of Bastoy have often claimed that they never learned to care for others until they arrived on the island.

Because statistics prove that humane prisons result in a lower reoffending rate and an improved life upon release for inmates, the only reason to oppose such a reformatory is vengeance. As humans, we naturally desire for those who do wrong to suffer for their crimes, but this desire is not reason enough to abuse and mistreat criminals, nor to allow them to be locked inside a cell for years and released only to commit the same crime. True societal justice includes treating and rehabilitating those who have done wrong and train them to do right in the future.

Justice for society demands that people released from prison be less likely to cause further damage to others, and so humane prisons should be adopted at increasing rates. Urge President Barack Obama to work towards implementing humane prisons in the United States.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Barack Obama,

For many years, Norway has successfully treated inmates and rehabilitated them back into society by means of humane prisons. Such prisons allow inmates to learn basic and responsible tasks that they can apply to their lives once released. As a result, the reoffending rate in Norway is the lowest in Europe.

For the victims of crime, it should be enough that the offender is in prison. But after the incident, it is important to rehabilitate the criminal and assure that he will not commit crime in the future. While this cannot be prevented in every case, it can be improved simply by giving inmates responsibility and treating them as human beings. As it is, criminals in American prisons are frequently exposed to violence and are rarely encouraged to reform the bad behavior that landed them there in the first place. Humane prisons have a positive effect not only on individuals, but on society as well, and I urge you to implement such prisons in the United States.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kingzie.no

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One Comment

  1. J Davidson says:

    Most criminals come from deprived backgrounds. They deserve humane, reconstructive treatment so that they can enter society productively.

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