Officer, Norway, Dave Davies discussed on Fresh Air


Ren echo the madness of American incarceration. You're right about Norway, which has adopted a strikingly different model of incarceration. But this is really just in the last 25 years or so you want to just say a little bit about what their penal system used to be like What prompted a search for something different. So in the 19 eighties and nineties, Norway had a prison system that looked very much like our prison system. They had quite a bit of violence within their jails and prisons. They had a high recidivism rate. The recidivism rate at that time was between 60 and 70% which was on a par with The three year recidivism rate in the US right now is 68% so so really similar outcomes and similarly fraud environments within the jails and prisons themselves. They looked at the situation. The government looked at the situation and acknowledge that it wasn't working that they weren't having the outcomes that they desired on DH. They also had a system where there were there were escapes. Correctional officers have been killed. On DH, So they took a very hard look at the prison system to revamp it to see how their outcomes could improve and have the safety of the system could improve. And as I learned more about the system, they assigned a working group within the Justice system. Tau look at changes that could be made and one of the central tenets that came out of that working group was To stop meeting hard with hard and start meeting hard with soft and what I learned they meant by this was that if you take a harsh stance of punishment Toward people When they enter the legal system. You don't get the outcomes that you desire that this idea of a hardened criminal becoming more hardened in a prison setting was something that they really thought. Was true. They also when they say start meeting hard with soft meant that what they were really noticing was that people were coming into the prison system with thes deficiencies in various realms of their lives that were keeping them from succeeding outside of prison. So they decided to dio needs assessment of everyone who came in to prison immediately when they arrived to see. Do you have a substance use problem? Well, then we will use the time that you're incarcerated. To get you mental health treatment for your addiction. Do need job training. Do you need education? Do you need language assistance? Do you need anger management classes or parenting classes? What are the What are the root causes of the behaviours that are getting you arrested that we can try to address Said that when you sew that will use this time in prison constructively is that when you leave prison, you don't come back, and that fundamental shift in philosophy was really fascinating to me. You know what struck me about this. As I read it was that the approach in Norway is to focus on the future. What's going to happen to the inmate in the future? What's going to happen to his relationship with the community as opposed to in the United States where I think you quote Anthony Kennedy of the Justice as saying that you know here we tend to think of the justice system as imposing sentences and don't really think beyond that. Don't really think about what actually happens in the prison system when sentences are imposed. That's right. The principle that really guided some of this decision making was exactly as you say, Dave that we need to be forward looking. So when I talked to people in those systems, they would say the crime is the one thing we cannot change. That's the thing in the past. It's not our job to look backwards to the crime, which we cannot change. What we can change now is the outcome's going forward. Another really key element of this in terms of their approach was to say the punishment is your loss of liberty. That's the entire punishment. You don't get to sleep at home with your family. You don't get to structure your day like you want to. That's the entire punishment of incarceration. There's not additional punishment. That means that you have to suffer more that you have other rights taken away. It's merely your loss of liberty. So then given that that's the punishment that just exists by you being here. And when you are here, let's use the time constructively and the outcomes in this case is not just the outcome for the prisoner. It's the outcome for the community that will. Eventually he'll rejoin. No questions. So, as I said, nor we had this recidivism rate in the 19 eighties and nineties that was between 60 and 70% and that recidivism rate has dropped to 20%. So only 20% of the region prisoners air now arrested in the two years after their release. It's taken a lot of work for them to get to this place, and it isn't just a simple is saying, we're going to provide programming, so a really critical shift occurred in the role of the prison officer, our term for a correctional officer, where they said that instead of just being a guard instead of being purely about security and control That the prison officer was now going to become someone with a really complex role that was assisting in this process of bolstering a person's development and strength as they moved through the prison system, so it was a role that was more akin to a social worker. In addition to the security duties that the person had, they would also have an ability to talk with the person about why they committed the crime that they committed. What kinds of things they needed, moving forward how they could set themselves on a more constructive path moving forward and that role really shifted and changed in a very pronounced way. Christine Mantra, is an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Brown University Medical School and the author of Waiting for an echo the Madness of American Incarceration. She'll be back and talk more after a break. I'm Dave Davies,.

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