‘Chalk and Cheese’ compares the development of the prison system in Norway with the current system in this country. The Community Justice Coalition launched the book on the 24th of November 2017. It demonstrates how the Norwegian experience can be used as a model for the transformation of prison systems to deliver more positive results and a safer community.
The Norwegian prison system in the 1980s closely resembled that of Australia’s, narrowly focused on retributive justice. Following a number of incidents, Norway introduced significant reforms prioritising prisoner rehabilitation. These reforms have proved successful and have significantly reduced the recidivism rate to one of the lowest in the world at 20%. We believe Australia is capable of doing the same.
The book explains that Norwegian prisons between the 1980s and early 1990s relied on incarceration and harsh punishment as a deterrent. This model propagated psychiatric problems, heightened recidivism rates, and resulted in several riots, a record-high number of escapees, and the deaths of two prison officers. In 2008, the Norwegian government formed an Inquiry and published a White Paper emphasising rehabilitation and community-based sentences. Since then, Norway’s prisons have radically transformed to ensure prisoners have the skills they require to adapt to society upon release.
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