Norway mulls mass prison closures

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Norway Correctional Services has proposed closing some 27 of the 60 prisons in Norway saying that the smaller institutions are inefficient.


The restructuring of the prison system is to based on size, location and maintenance needs, according to the proposal submitted to the justice minister Grete Faremo. 
Facilities in small communities and prisons with less than 30 places are set for closure, according to a report in the Aftenposten daily.
Politicians have reacted to the proposal, fearing that the closures will lead to job losses in rural areas and the closure of facilities that have been shown to function well in the rehabilitation of prisoners.
One of the prisons mentioned in the Aftenposten article is Gjøvik in Oppland in southern Norway. The prison has been part of the town since 1862 and operates in cooperation with school and health authorities, and has been praised for its successful rehabilitation of prisoners.
Both inmates and staff are battling to keep the prison, with a proposal mooted to increase capacity to 50 prisoners.
"The prison has adapted to the future. It has reinvented itself and has a good reputation when it comes to getting convicted prisoners back on track. It is an important contribution to security in the community," said Bjørn Iddberg at Gjøvik municipality to the newspaper.
The proposal from the Correctional Services recommends the closure of all prisons with fewer than 30 inmates. Currently 27 of the 60 prisons in Norway would fit into this definition. 
There is also a proposal for the construction of new prisons in Haugesund and Vestfold, and to extend facilities in Ilseng and Ullersmo.


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