Prison

Turning villains into neighbors 5/27/17

Article: "Turning villains into neighbors"    

 >Bastoy is an island prison off the coast of Norway where the prisoners are given as much freedom and autonomy as possible. Norway has an incarceration rate of 75 people per 100,000 - about one-tenth of the US incarceration rate. Norway’s prisoners have a recidivism rate of about 20% - half that of the United States. Is Norway’s kinder, gentler approach the reason for the better numbers?

> Prison is often about punishment in less developed countries. In the US, it is supposed to be about protecting society from the criminal. Prisons do this in three ways: first, by keeping the prisoner separate from the rest of society. Next, prison itself is supposed to be a deterrence to crime. Finally, prisoners are supposed to be rehabilitated and reformed while behind bars.

> Regarding deterrence - Stephen Levitt has shown that a dollar spent on better police is 20% more effective at reducing crime than a dollar spent on prisons. Regarding reform - the US does not do well with rehabilitation. Other nations use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help prisoners understand the people, places and events that trigger them into criminal activity. Adam Gelb of the Pew Charitable Trusts is studying the impact of CBT on criminal behavior.