FEBRUARY 15, 2018
Lessons Learned From a Prison Model in Norway
Bringing his research and personal experiences to the classroom, Sami Abdel-Salam, assistant professor of criminal justice, engages WCU criminal justice students and former students from the American College of Norway (ACN) in a collaborative study of Norway's Halden Prison, one of the most innovative maximum-security facilities in the world.
Halden operates under Norway's Normality Principle, which states that inmates' punishment
is the "restriction of liberty; no other rights have been removed. … During the serving
of a sentence, life inside will resemble life outside as much as possible."
Abdel-Salam not only provides opportunities for his students to be involved directly in his research, but also creates a lively classroom environment in which students are encouraged to debate this unique method of prison reform. He even had two WCU students and two ACN students assist him and Halden Prison Deputy Warden Jan Stromnes in presenting the novel concept at the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis, MN.
An independent study published in 2010 showed that one-fifth (20%) of inmates who were released from Norwegian prisons reoffended within two years. In comparison, a recent U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that about two-thirds (67.8%) of released U.S. prisoners were rearrested within three years.
If the Halden model were applied in America, could our prison populations, associated costs, and recidivism be decreased? Abdel-Salam's compelling work continues.