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[VIDEO] Fun. – “We’re Not Young” (Yahoo! Parody)

Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 1.42.26 PM

I feel like this song is a better representation of what we actually feel. And no, I’m not in my 30′s.

The World’s Most Humane Prison

The maximum sentence in Norway, even for murder, is 21 years. Since most inmates will eventually return to society, prisons mimic the outside world as much as possible to prepare them for freedom. At Halden, rooms include en-suite bathrooms with ceramic tiles, mini-fridges and flat-screen TVs. Officials say sleeker televisions afford inmates less space to hide drugs and other contraband. Photo taken 2010.

I came across this prison in Norway, while reading an article about the confessed murdered, Anders Behring Breivik. There was speculation that he might be able to serve his time in one of the most enjoyable prisons out there. Although this was rumored, it is way more likely that he will be spending his days in the “Ila prison, which is less cushy than Halden, but still “a far cry” from the bare cells of American prisons.” In fact, this is where he currently has been spending time since his arrest, with little comfort. Breivik is in a cell with a toilet, table and chair. This seems more fitting than the prison that has become known as the most humane.

Yahoo – Halden Fengsel, opened last year outside of Oslo and houses around 250 male inmates.

The documentary photographer Alex Masi writes that the cells in Halden are equipped “with an en-suite bathroom, a flat-screen TV and various comforts. They measure 12 [square meters--about 129 square feet] and are divided up into units (10 to 12) which share a living room and kitchen,” much like a college dorm. Time Magazine described the cells as resembling an Ikea showroom, complete with “stainless-steel countertops, wraparound sofas and birch-colored coffee tables.”

The art budget for the facility came in at more than a million dollars, Masi says, while the cells are brightly painted and lack bars on the windows. Inmates take specialty cooking classes or choose from many other courses at an in-prison high school. They can jog around the 75-acre wooded facility or even climb on the prison’s rock walls.

According to Time, prison guards are required to help each inmate make his sentence “as meaningful, enlightening and rehabilitating as possible.” About half of the prison guards are women, since research has suggested that a corps of female guards can help reduce aggression among the prison population. The unarmed guards eat meals and play games with prisoners.

According to Raf Sanchez at the Telegraph, the region’s governor, Are Hoidal, said at the prison’s opening ceremony that prisons should focus on “human rights and respect.”

“We want to build them up, give them confidence through education and work and have them leave as better people,” he said.

Sanchez adds that only 20 percent of Norwegian prisoners return to jail within two years of their release, a very low recidivism rate. (For comparison, a 1994 study suggested that more than 60 percent of released prisoners in America were arrested again within three years, while 51.8 percent returned to prison. The U.S. rate of incarceration also dwarfs Norway’s.)

According to Foreign Policy’s Robert Zeliger, most murderers in Norway serve 14 years or less. A criminal may only be sentenced to 21 years before the government must evaluate him or her for release. Those still deemed a threat to society receive an addition five-year sentence before undergoing another evaluation. “Life without parole” is not an option.

Here are a few more (not all) of the photos, provided by TIME:

Village People To help inmates develop routines and to reduce the monotony of confinement, designers spread Halden's living quarters, work areas and activity centers across the prison grounds. In this "kitchen laboratory," inmates learn the basics of nutrition and cooking. On a recent afternoon, homemade orange sorbet and slices of tropical fruit lined the table. Prisoners can take courses that will prepare them for careers as caterers, chefs and waiters. Photo taken 2010.

Open Wide Norwegian inmates lose their right to freedom but not to state services like health care. Dentists, doctors, nurses and even librarians work in the local municipality, preventing a subpar prison standard from developing. On-site, Halden boasts a small hospital and this state-of-the-art dentist's office. Photo taken 2010.

Prison Yard Halden's architects preserved trees across the 75-acre site to obscure the 20-ft.-high security wall that surrounds the perimeter, in order to minimize the institutional feel and, in the words of one architect, to "let the inmates see all of the seasons." Benches and stone chessboards dot this jogging trail. Photo taken 2010.

Recording Artists There's also a recording studio with a professional mixing board. In-house music teachers — who refer to the inmates as "pupils," never "prisoners" — work with their charges on piano, guitar, bongos and more. Three members of Halden's security-guard chorus recently competed on Norway's version of American Idol. They hope to produce the prison's first musical — starring inmates — later this year. Photo taken 2010.

Security guards organize activities from 8:00 in the morning until 8:00 in the evening. It's a chance for inmates to pick up a new hobby, but it's also a part of the prison's dynamic security strategy: occupied prisoners are less likely to lash out at guards and one another. Inmates can shoot hoops on this basketball court, which absorbs falls on impact, and make use of a rock-climbing wall, jogging trails and a soccer field. Photo taken 2010.

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