Are Hoidal, the warden of Norway’s Halden prison, found significant differences between American and Norwegian correctional systems during his recent visit to the State Correctional Institution-Chester, writes Samantha Melamed for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The initiative from Drexel University brought together the leaders from the two systems to explore the vastly different ideological and practical workings of the two correctional systems, and see what they could learn from each other.
Jordan Hyatt, a Drexel criminologist, organized Hoidal’s visit to five Pennsylvania prisons to help facilitate a useful exchange of both technical advice and big-picture perspectives.
“You tend to see the way you do things as the only way,” said Hyatt. “This is a practical reminder that there are other ways.”
Norway, which has a population of 5.2 million, only has around 3,900 people in prison. While Pennsylvania, with its population of 12.8 million, currently has more than 48,000.
However, the biggest difference is that the U.S. justice system focuses on incarceration, while Norway aims for rehabilitation.
“Every inmate in Norway will be released. Every inmate will come out and be our neighbor,” said Hoidal. “So, what kind of neighbors do we want?”
Read more about the visit in the Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.