General Question

_zen_'s avatar

The Norwegian killer will be residing in a very comfortable prison - and we find this offensive - but why exactly? What would be gained if he were to be jailed in a cold, miserable dump?

Asked by _zen_ (7854points) July 28th, 2011

I am playing devil’s advocate here, perhaps even the actual devil’s advocate as he is a demonic monster of sorts. Yes, I’d like to see him fried – I’d even hit the switch.

But Norway is a funny kind of country – and the events leading up to the killings, and the subsequent discussions – are par for the course.

If you haven’t seen the photos of the prison – google it. Let’s just say that I’ve stayed at worse hotels.

But someone who is convicted of a crime like that will have to be kept separate from the inmates – lest they tear him apart.

He will be spending the rest of his life in prison.

Should he be put in a miserbale horrible place – will this teach him anything? There is no rehab involved – as he will not be returning to society?

As a deterrant? Don’t kill 100 people because you will be put in a cold, clammy prison cell?



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82 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Anders Behring Breivik could be jailed in one of the world’s most progressive prisons, where inmates enjoys cells equipped with flat screen televisions, minifridges and designer-style furniture

Seems a little much, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. Can’t do anything about it. As long as he dies in there, that’d be awesome.

zenvelo's avatar

Norway does not have life in prison; the longest sentence is 21 years, with a possible 5 year extension.

But prison is prison, the loss of freedom and isolation from society is the punishment.

FutureMemory's avatar

I wonder if public support for the death penalty will increase after this event.

intrepidium's avatar

I suppose (for me) there’ll be something cathartic and “fair” about seeing an offender being punished adequately for the monstrosity of his acts – the basic “an eye for an eye”, “punishment should fit the crime” instinct that most people have. Whether that’s a base instinct or not is another question.

I don’t know what Norwegian prisons are like in general or whether they incarcerate all their prisons in those same conditions but I presume their prison system already has a norm in place, Perhaps for them, such cushy digs are par for the course.

wilma's avatar

It sounds like he will be living much better than a lot of people who have committed no crime.
Perhaps Norway should investigate the use of chain gangs? or at least get rid of the cushy digs; flat screen televisions, minifridges and designer-style furniture? Why? The bare minimum for safety and health is all I think a prisoner like him should be provided with, and he should have to work for that.

john65pennington's avatar

Do you think his mental condition has anything to do with his “padded” cell?

ragingloli's avatar

AFAIK the norwegian prison system is made for rehabilitation and less for punishment. A comfortable environment is much more conducive for rehabilitation than a dark moist dungeon.
And norway has a homicide rate of .6 per 100000, compared to 5 per 100000 in the US.
Guess which system is more effective.

Blondesjon's avatar

Prison is a punishment. You get only the basics. A cot, a toilet, a way to bathe, and sufficient food to keep you alive.

You’re not going to rehabilitate criminals by making prison a cozier alternative than many of them have on the outside.

Aethelflaed's avatar

When it says “designer-style furniture”, is that code for “has a contract with Ikea”? Or the way all cheap knock-offs at WalMart are “designer-style”? It’s going to be really hard to get worked up over a prison system choosing cheap knock-offs.

I’m really not angry about his settings. I’m a big fan of the idea that if you treat people like humans, they’ll act more like humans; if you treat them like animals on the inside, they’ll act like animals when they get out. However, I do wonder if he’ll actually get renditioned to somewhere more hostile or get shivved the first week.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Aethelflaed . . . uh, dontcha think this fella kinda had the whole “animal” thing already going on, you know, with all the killing and what not?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Blondesjon Sure. But I don’t think that proving to him what barbarians the rest of us are will actually fix anything. I’d rather try to prove him wrong with love and fail than absolutely prove him right with hatred.

Blackberry's avatar

Well I guess the question is if people like this are rehabitable? I don’t think a person of sound mind would do this, so he was either brainwashed, had some mental problems, or a combination of other things like drugs for example.

I’m assuming if he’s taken away from whatever environment he was in, he’ll start to see clearly? But at the same time, exchanging one life, locked away forever seems fit for taking over 80 lives. So if he is even able to be rehabilitated, I would like to see if that could happen.

flutherother's avatar

Most of the comments about the comfortable prison conditions Breivik will experience come from the USA which has a prison system most Norwegians would consider very harsh. The Norwegian prison system is lenient in comparison and yet the homicide rate in the United States is more than eight times that of Norway.

I don’t personally find the Norwegian prison system offensive even when it is dealing with someone like Anders Breivik. What would be gained by making him live out his time in a cell with the heating turned down? What I find disturbing and I’m sure many Norwegians feel the same is that he may be freed after he has served his sentence.

Breivik is a fanatic and fanatics are not deterred by punishment.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Aethelflaed . . . yeah. jesus tried that and they tortured him, nailed him to a tree, and used his name to front all kinds a barbarism. vegetable rights and peace man :)

And discipline is not hatred.

thorninmud's avatar

The Finns used to have barbaric Soviet-style prisons, and crime rates were also Soviet-style. Now their prisons are the most lenient in the world, and crime rates are much lower.

Our intuition (read “base instincts”) about how to react to anti-social behavior are misleading.

marinelife's avatar

When you thought of the victims lying in the cold, miserable ground, dead, never to return, you might get some satisfaction to know that he was suffering.

I am more upset that the most he can face in Norway is 20 years!

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Blondesjon That’s a rather overly-simplistic take on the whole Jesus scenario. I’m not really sure that makes a compelling argument.
You can still discipline someone while treating them with more dignity than we do in our prison systems.
Look, I don’t know that this will work. I do, however, know that the system we have here in America doesn’t work. By a long shot. And when we waterboard prisoners in the name of getting info, and then are shocked when it doesn’t work, I don’t think that Americans have any right to tell the Norwegians how their doing shit wrong. So maybe this won’t work, but you’ll never find out if it does if you don’t try it. And him killing many people doesn’t excuse others lowering themselves to his level.

cazzie's avatar

Ok people…. @flutherother and @thorninmud are right. We have a low homicide rate. The US has overcrowded and some miserable prisons. Is that working out for them? No.

It is true that our maximum sentence has been 21, but he will be tried for ‘Crimes against Humanity’ which carries a 30 year sentence.

He wanted to be shot and actually thought that prisons in Norway tortured people. He’s being held in solitary confinement now. For a man with a supposed ‘message he wants to spread,’ that is pretty good punishment for now. And we are all going to forget his name and remember more what his victims were trying to stand for: Greater democracy, community involvement and a deep concern and care for our nation.

JLeslie's avatar

I tend to be in favor of giving prisoners decent living conditions, and wish the US could be more rehab focused. The US is very complicated I think when it comes to crime, punishment, and prisons. We cannot be compared to very small European very homogenous countries, our problems are significantly different from what I can tell.

The homocide rate is very low in the country, so the prison system is not tailored to the most heinous of crimes I am thinking. They are typically punishing lessor crimes and hoping the person leaves prison in a reasonable state of mind that he will function productively back in society. In America, we have a problem that is bigger than the prison system, it begins before the first imprisonment I am thinking.

I am not angered that this homocidal hateful maniac has a decent bed to sleep on. However, I would be in favor of the death penalty for him. At this point what I care about most is he not be out in society and that he be an example of how extreme thought and violence is never the way. He also demonstrates that there is no difference between a fundamental radical murderous Christian or Muslim.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie He’s not particularly religious. He is simply a supporter of the rhetoric and politics behind the radical right-wing. His actions were politically motivated, not religiously motivated.

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I actually was not aware of that, thank you for telling me. But, it doesn’t matter to me extreme is extreme, politically, religously, etc. In fact it seems to me he was religious about his politics to use the word religion in a broader way. My wording was poor, I should not have just singled out Christians and Muslims. We could group him in with Norwegians and start generalizing negatively about them. My impression is the world perceives Norwegians as very civilized, but even they have some extremists among them it seems. It does not, and should not reflect on the average Norwegian citizen.

ragingloli's avatar

In his manifesto he wrote he considers himself “100% Christian” and also claimed to be a member of an international christian military order called “Pauperes Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici”, which he considers to be the successor of the knights templar.
He also advocates the dissolution of all current churches and fusion thereof into a new allencompassing european church.
I would not consider that “not particularly religious”.

JLeslie's avatar

@ragingloli That does sound pretty radical and religious to me.

snowberry's avatar

I have been a Christian for almost 40 years. I know a lot of Christians from many different denominations. I do not know one, or ever heard of one who would embrace Breivik’s theology, habits, or political beliefs, or even think of it for a minute.

I haven’t read his manifesto, and I haven’t looked into this groups theology or political stance. But assuming what I’m reading here is true, although he claims to be a “Christian”, the theology he says he believes in, and the friends he says he has do not follow Biblical Christianity. They’re in a world all their own, and the Christian community cannot be defined by his beliefs or actions.

LostInParadise's avatar

I love the irony of a prisoner railing against a system that treats him like a human. I am sure that as a right wing extremist he no doubt is opposed to coddling criminals, and now he is one of them. I say kill him with kindness, defuse his rage.

cazzie's avatar

I think what he said was that he wasn’t particularly religious, but felt he was ethnically Christian, but I don’t care about that. Not at all. What I care about is what he did and what he tried to do.

Blackberry's avatar

Is it too soon to say that he was actually a pretty handsome man? He could have used his time a little more wisely doing something more productive :(

cazzie's avatar

@Blackberry If you lived here in Norway, you wouldn’t say that. He’s actually below average in looks for the men here, quite frankly.

Blackberry's avatar

@cazzie Whoa….I gotta get some of those Norwegian genes for my offspring.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@cazzie Damn, I gotta get my ass to Norway soon…

cazzie's avatar

@Aethelflaed and @Blackberry do some google to oogle. I got me one hot hubby and was so proud showing him off at my 25th school reunion last week. Rawwwr.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @zenvelo

Obviously the guy is really fucked up mentally as well. “Normal”, mentally and emotionally healthy people don’t just trip the line into being mass murderers overnight.

I do not support the death penalty, it reduces one to the same level of unconsciousness as the killer being killed.

An eye for an eye is not the way a civilized society should operate.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Im about to go commit a crime in Norway. That jail looks about a million times nicer than my house…

Ponderer983's avatar

@Blackberry Just because you think he is attractive in your mind means that he couldn’t mass murder? In your mind are all people in jail ugly? What does your comment about “used his time a little more wisely doing something more productive” mean?

Roby's avatar

Three hots and a cot…that all any prisoner deserves. No television, no radio, no reading material, no nothing.

cazzie's avatar

@Ponderer983 no idea how you read that into @Blackberry ‘s answer. He didn’t say he was so good looking he couldn’t possibly do something like what he did. And surely we can all agree he should have been focusing his all-too intense efforts on something GOOD, not planning a way to kill people. This monster didn’t just snap one day and go on a rampage. He planned this for YEARS in order to amass enough ammunition and fertiliser. That is a hellofalot of focus, planning and energy.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry And, I think there are a whole bunch of Muslims who feel that way too. I know you were not specifically addressing me, but since you felt the need to defend Christians, which honestly I don’t feel you should; really, I cannot imagine any jelly thinks most Christians are plotting to blow up buildings and people, we understand it is a fringe group and a crazy individual. We, I’ll go ahead and speak for everyone lol, take issue with the fanatacism, extremism, not which religion he is. It’s just when people seem hypocritical it is annoying.

atlantis's avatar

The question has been framed so that it comes off sounding one-sided. It’s not just the prisons in Norway which seem like decent travel lodging. Norway ranks 7 or 7.5 on the HDI, the highest in the world. Everything is of a standard unimaginable by us mere ordinary mortals. Even in American prisons, I’ve heard of prisoners who’ve committed crimes just to get meals twice a day and access to running water and electricity. The prison is that safest place for gang members and with the highest ratio of incarceration in the world, American prisons are the true sanctuaries of the illegal drug and crime industry.

So if you think about it, the guy most certainly had a much better life than what he had outside of prison. Because that prison must be the Norwegian version of the absolute minimum.

As a non-Scandinavian, you think they got vacancy?

Blackberry's avatar

@Ponderer983 I was joking man lol….....I thought it would be funny to point out, after this guy just comitted such a horrid crime, that he was also attractive. A little shock humor.

cazzie's avatar

@atlantis I think you may have a point there. We are on the top of the European Food Chain, having protected our currency by not adopting the Euro or joining the Union. A reminder that all things are relative, but also, as a society, we don’t belief that making a person suffer badly at our collective hands is going to help change their state of mind.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Imagine a place where this prison is the bare essential.

intrepidium's avatar

@Blackberry I actually thought there’s a resemblance to Julian Assange… not in a good way

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover The majority of citizens in Singapore live in public housing, it does not have the same connotation there as it does in other countries. They believe if people know they have shelter they can focus on being productive, or something like that. I saw it on a Martha Stewart Travel episode where she went to Singapore, and at the time I googled a little about it.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think the point of jailing people like him should be re-socialization. Sometimes the point of prison should be to keep the criminals away from the public and to punish them. I think he is a prime example of someone who is not capable of rehabilitation and deserves to be punished for his crimes.

intrepidium's avatar

I can’t help wondering if the Norwegian authorities worry that they might end up making a martyr of him if they punished him in a way that is significantly harsher or different from their norm?

cazzie's avatar

@intrepidium it’s called ‘Justice’.. not ‘revenge’.

intrepidium's avatar

To some ultra-right extremist elements, he just might be seen as their poster boy is all I’m saying

cazzie's avatar

@intrepidium you may be interested in this debate, if you want to see who is thinking his actions were justified.

intrepidium's avatar

Whatever the Israelis think or don’t think, I’m not sure what their opinions have to do with how the Norwegians see fit to punish or incarcerate one of their own. The ultra right extremists in the link I referred to are Norwegian and Scandinavian, presumably a segment of their own citizenry whose opinions the Norwegian authorities might have more reason to worry about…

mazingerz88's avatar

According to what I heard he will be in that comfy prison but will be forced to listen to endless loop play of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face for the first 12 hours of the day, then to a Muslim prayer chant for the next 12 and it’ll be an endless cycle of these for the rest of his stinking life.

cazzie's avatar

@intrepidium There aren’t news boards and replies like the ones on that blog here in Norway. Just saying.

Zaku's avatar

Maybe because we live in a society that tortures itself with a social agreement that we should all be in fear of not making it financially, usually meaning we think we need to work at a job which most of use expect not to really want to do, and that if we fail we risk losing our homes, our relationships, our medical support, etc., and so how come someone can kill people and then not have to worry about those things that good hardworking people have to worry about.

Which to me, mainly points out how we terrorize ourselves over financial worries, which I also think is why we allow the system to exist, because we’re too scared to question our employing corporations, our banks, our institutions, and our “learned lessons” about how to make it, and the necessity of it.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie The US is very complicated I think when it comes to crime, punishment, and prisons. Prisons, crime and punishment here is quite simple, MONEY. Prisons in the US is all about vengeance for the victim, which is why everyone was pissed over Casey Anthony and OJ, there were no one to get their pound of flesh from, and money for everyone connected to it. Someone has to stock the prison with office supplies, t-paper, shoelaces, commissary items, cable, electricity, lawn maintenance equipment, and supplies, etc, not to mention the civilian staffs payroll or the prison union. They are just lucky they can bribe the inmates into working for “good-time” or else a lot of the slave labor labor they provide behind the walls will have to be done by some union guy wanting $18 bucks an hour min, instead of some punk making $25 a month if that much. And if you are a politician that can hand society more pounds of flesh than your opponent, you get elected! Woo hoo! Afterall, those you pledge to slam to the wall headfirst are the poor who can’t afford good lawyers, or pay enough taxes.

On to the question.
I am sure the US would love to have gulags, but Uncle Sam also has his pride. He do not want to look no better then “those people”, so he has to feign being benevolent why actually being no better then “them people”

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] This is our Question of the Day!

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I have to agree (don’t pass out) that the prison business is a racket. Now with more and more private prisons, which I competely disagree with, it will get worse I predict.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie I have my defibrillator at the ready, just in case ;-D

jazzjeppe's avatar

Here Norway and the neighboring country Sweden where I live, are pretty much the same. We have pretty much the same thinking when it comes to jail and punishment. Sure there are people who raise their voices about bringing back the death penalty. Sure he could spend the rest of his life in a dark cold hole somewhere. But what good would it do? It won’t bring our loved ones back. His time in jail must be seen as a way to protect the society from him and a chance for him to get treatment from whatever insanity he may suffer from.

In a civilized world barbaric methods and inhuman treatment of others have no place, I say. That is for medieval times. We live in a time where we know much more about the human mind, psychology, health and medicine etc. Humanity must prevail in order to keep the world as sane and human as possible, we can’t let evil win.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

Coloma's avatar


Well said, and, I agree.

I like the saying that ” vengeance is the lazy form of grief.”

Wishing to cause more pain and suffering just delays grief, it does not amend it.

mattbrowne's avatar

Being in a comfortable prison in isolation is far worse than being in a miserable dump with other prisoners.

Breivik will feel the intense pain of prolonged isolation. So let’s keep things in perspective.

_zen_'s avatar

He isn’t insane – according to the Norwegian authorities. He will stand trial.

I disagree with @jazzjeppe – there are many perspectives and methods of punishment that have evolved since Medieval Times – it isn’t black and white.

We also have to send a message to borderliners – and a cushy five star hotel just doesn’t do the trick. I think your post is well-written – but naive and populistic. It is also incorrect and premature; he isn’t clinically insane after all.

cazzie's avatar

@zen he hasn’t been fully assessed yet as to his mental state. He may be deluded but still sane, but he will be assessed by two separate doctors which hasn’t happened yet. No jumping the gun here.

His lawyer, Lippestad, (who doesn’t want the case btw, .Lippestad is a member of the Labour party) has spoken out a bit about their discussions and is convinced that his client is insane.

_zen_'s avatar

His lawyer would say that, right? And what does that have to do with anything? Have you ever seen a lawyer who A: wanted a case like this and B: Wouldn’t say anything to help his client?

And since when is the defence lawyer’s opinion = medicine/psychology?

And yes, he has been deemed fit to stand trial. That’s the bottom line. It’s easy to argue that anyone who would kill innocent people at random must be “insane” – but then, all murderers would get “treatment” and walk away – bullshit.

JLeslie's avatar

@zen He won’t be able to get his message out while in prison at least. Or, that is if the media stops talking about him.

I think the prison guards should deliver him the news that there has been a huge backlash and all of the western world is electing far left liberals, even America who during 911 and after seemed intent on voting in conservatives has now had a sudden shift in ideas after witnessing what a Chrstian extremist can do. Fake newspapers, no access to internet. That will torture him.

cazzie's avatar

@zen so.. how much Norwegian do you read? Have you ever lived here? Have you ever experienced our justice system? He has NOT yet been assessed by the two doctors.

I’m not saying he is or isn’t, but he has said some really odd things and has a completely warped vision of the world. But the planning and the years it took…. seems pretty calm and collected to me, too. The doctors will do their jobs and the court will have to take it into account.

cazzie's avatar

Oh, and I overstated what his lawyer said. He isn’t ‘convinced’ but his exact words where ‘he may be insane.’ He said he is a lawyer and not a psychiatrist, but he also said that if his client doesn’t undergo the doctors testing, he will not represent him.

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cazzie's avatar

@zen I am trying to point out the monster hasn’t been assessed by doctors yet whether he is sane or insane. How does that translate into me ‘supporting’ what he’s done?

Would it make you feel better if you knew that if he was deemed ‘insane’ he would be more likely to end up in a facility much less better appointed than the prisons? and that he could be held for a longer period of time and given medications against his will? Some of our facilities for the insane are rather antiquated and a damp basement room doped up on medication might be a better fate for the monster.

cazzie's avatar

I’ve just heard that if he is put in a prison that has members of a particular gang in it, they have a price on his head. Don’t kid yourselves, our prisons still have nasty people in them.

cazzie's avatar

I thought I’d be flagged and edited. I was trying to cover all the possibilities. But it is good to see that you are doing some actual reading on the subject now. Even if it is though editorials that are slightly bent.

(and not only that, I was having to work in bursts, as both my kids are here and I have been interrupted on occasion.)

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augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Knock it off, guys. No need to make this personal.

martianspringtime's avatar

I don’t necessarily think he should be kept in a cell he can’t even sit down in, but I do think it’s a bit odd that he’s in a place that really does sound more like a hotel to me. Maybe those places are okay for people who committed lesser crimes who can be released back into society after they’ve served their sentence, but in a case like his, I unfortunately don’t think rehabilitation is the answer…

_zen_'s avatar

^ Well said.

PhiNotPi's avatar

If you are trying to get someone rehabilitated, the prison should be like real life. Flat screen TV’s, I don’t even have a flat screen TV! I think that a prison shouldn’t ever go above and beyond what someone would expect in real life.

Nullo's avatar

You know, I sometimes wonder if you can really compare crime in the U.S. to crime anywhere else, at least with respect to the prison system.

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