If you live in Norway, go directly to jail, do not pass go.
Time Magazine recently reported on what may be the world’s swankiest prison. The facility, known as Halden, ranks somewhere between the nice dorm room you had in college and the first apartment you actually decided to spend some money on.
Here is Time’s description: “The cells rival well-appointed college dorm rooms, with their flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Designers chose long vertical windows for the rooms because they let in more sunlight. There are no bars. Every 10 to 12 cells share a living room and kitchen. With their stainless-steel countertops, wraparound sofas and birch-colored coffee tables, they resemble Ikea showrooms.”
Besides those sweet amenities, Halden also boasts jogging trails and cooking classes. And if that’s not enough, the guards in the jail don’t carry guns and apparently strive to maintain friendly relations with the prisoners.
The country apparently spent 10 years and more than $250 million to build this jail. “It embodies the guiding principles of the country's penal system: that repressive prisons do not work and that treating prisoners humanely boosts their chances of reintegrating into society,” Time notes. I wish my landlord treated me that humanely.
To some extent, this mindset seems to be paying off. The U.S. State Department reports that Norway has a lower crime rate than the United States and most of Europe. Still, one could argue that if a jail is too nice, people might not feel as fearful of being arrested, especially in this economic downturn. After all, if you’re on the verge of losing your house anyway, this facility might sound less like a prison and more like a resort.