This May, a group of HOPE mentors, research assistants, and staff made the journey across the Atlantic Ocean all the way to Norway! We were lucky enough to receive an invitation to tour Halden Prison, one of Norway’s most famous open-campus correctional facilities. Here at Halden, inmates are able to leave campus for work, attend courses and workshops to develop skills, walk freely from building to building, and develop relationships with the correctional officers (none of whom carry any weapons).
Halden is not the first stop for any inmate. They must earn the privilege to finish out the final years of their sentence in this facility through good behavior. Because of the higher level of freedom afforded inmates at Halden, it is a highly sought after facility with a competitive application process.
Inmates at Halden Prison live in a dorm-style unit with each person having their own room, equipped with a bed, dresser, bathroom, window, and tv. The cells closely resemble a barren single-dorm room in an old university building. There are shared kitchens for between 12-18 inmates, where inmates can prepare their own meals with groceries purchased from the well-stocked commissary.
While inmates have jobs at which they work each day, there are many options for courses available in their free time. There is a ceramics workshop, a restaurant that serves community members, a woodworking workshop, a music recording studio, outdoor recreational spaces, a religious space for all denominations, and a large library, among others options.
Family visits are allowed as often as are possible for the staff and inmates. There is even a separate house on site where families can apply to spend the night with their incarcerated loved-one, with a separate, brightly colored room for children. This is a lovely and important feature as its just as hard on the families and children of those in prison as it is for those separated from their loved ones through incarceration.
The visit was very educational and inspiring, reminding the HOPE team of the importance and possibility of rehabilitation in prison. It was a unique and valuable experience to get to learn from the Halden Prison staff first-hand. Hopefully it will not be a one-time experience.
Get in touch with the HOPE team by email (email@example.com) to learn more about our trip abroad or ask us any questions you might have about the trip.