Prisons probably aren't the first buildings that spring to mind when you think about green design and architecture. Yet one small island in Norway is set to change that perception with the recent introduction of the "world's first ecological prison" — a facility powered by solar energy that will put its inmates to work coordinating daily operations, such as recycling and food production, and learning their part to protect the environment.
Norwegian authorities hope to thus instill a sense of responsibility in their inmates and to better prepare them for an eco-conscious life once they leave the prison. The facility, which is located on Bastoey Island (about 46 mi south of Oslo), houses 115 inmates. Justice Minister Knut Storberget explained that "from a social and economic perspective, this is cheapest for society," adding that it only made sense for a prison already renowned for its pleasant living conditions — resembling a summer camp more than a conventional prison with activities like tennis, horse riding and swimming — to go that extra step to rehabilitate its inmates. Running costs at the Bastoey facility are lower than at most traditional prisons — which often require more officers to supervise the inmates. The prison produces its own high-quality organic food with the help of grants from several environmental organizations, and it is surrounded by beaches and verdant fields. Its solar panels cut its electricity needs by close to 70%.
The inmates have few complaints: "We are given full freedom within a limited area," said Erik, a hobby carpenter who helped put up the solar panels. Another inmate stated that, "This is like a holiday camp compared to a closed facility." It hardly even seems like a prison to us anymore.
Via ::Reuters: Norway Unveils "First Ecological Prison" (news website)