Here’s an island prison that’s about as distant in principle from Alcatraz as is it in location. Bastoey Island, about 45 miles south of Oslo, hosts some of Norway’s worst offenders in what is effectively an eco-village working holiday camp. Instead of the traditional barred cells, prisoners, including murderers, rapists, drug dealers and thieves, live in separate, unlocked houses on the island. Although only one and a half miles from the mainland, prisoners are reluctant to escape, lest they get returned to the typical maximum security unit and lose the privilege of serving their time where they’re learning valuable skills, as well as gaining respect for themselves, each other, and the environment.
The island prison uses solar panels, is almost self-sufficient with food from its own organic garden, and operates a strict recycling system. This is an interesting experiment in eco-therapy — where reconnecting offenders with nature may well also help develop a noble sense of purpose, that in turn helps them reconnect with society.