Prisons are not all what you might imagine them to be. In our collective imagination, and in the majority of films, cells are miniscule, dark and dirty, infested with rats or impregnated with odours and excrement. Although such prisons certainly exist, there are also high class cells that make us wonder about our life choices!
The word “prison” alone is enough to make your blood run cold – which is kind of the point, really. Not exactly a holiday destination. However, there are certain types of cells that you mightn’t say no to! Here is a ranking system of prisons, from the most luxurious to the most miserable.
1/ Bastøy, Norway
Bastøy is the largest prison in Norway. Situated on the island of the same name, it is organised into a small community comprised of 80 buildings. It has streets, beaches and bathing areas, several football pitches, farming land and a luxuriant forest. As well as the penitentiary functions of this island, it also has a shop, a book shop, health services, a church and even a school. The prisoners live in pleasant conditions, that others may consider luxurious. Norway has by far the lowest rate of repeat offending in Europe….
2/ Aranjuez, Spain
This Spanish prison has thought of everything: it allows parents to spend time with their children, in an area that is pleasantly decorated. Disney characters on the walls, a nursery and a playground, this prison’s goal is that the children will not realise where their mother or father is being detained. Not a bad idea.
3/ Halden, Norway
Decidedly, Norway knows how to take care of its prisoners! This may also be because it has fewer prisoners to detain. However, classed as a high security penitentiary, Halden prison does not have any conventional security devices. It was built in 2010, putting the emphasis on rehabilitation: it simulates life in the real world. The prisoners can sign up for several sports or music classes, and interact with unarmed staff, in order to create a sense of community. The establishment has even received the Arnstein Arneberg award for architecture.
4/ Norgerhaven, the Netherlands
The prisoners in Norgerhaven live in modern cells that aren’t that unlike student dorms! Furniture, a fridge, a television and a private bathroom – it’s far from a hovel! The crime levels in the Netherlands are so low that the prisons are relatively empty.
5/ Champ-Dollon, Geneva
The Champ-Dollon prison houses prisoners before their court cases and before they are found guilty. The modern cells are spacious and colourful, with concrete walls that aren’t that different from many smaller apartments!
6/ HMP Addiewell, Scotland
The Addiewell penitentiary is a restorative learning prison. The residents reflect on the circumstances that led to their imprisonment through targeted activities. Contact with nature and familial links are the fundamental elements in the re-adapatation process. The cells, at the height of modernity, almost remind us of an Ibis Budget hotel room!