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How does Norway rehabilitate Anders Behring Breivik?

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Old Nazi prison

Ila is one of the few high-security prisons in Norway. It was originally built in the 1930s as a women’s prison, but it is known more for its use as an internment camp by the Nazis during World War II and later to incarcerate Norwegian traitors. Today, half of its 124 inmates are in preventive detention, an indefinite sentence in Norway reserved for the most heinous criminals – from sex offenders to murderers – and repeat offenders.

Despite the dangerous prison population, the guards at Ila are unarmed except for nightsticks, while the inmates cook freely with sharp knives in the prison kitchen and smith with real hammers, all without incidents. In the history of the prison, there has only been one case of an inmate killing another with a smuggled kitchen knife.

“It just works,” says Jan Arne Hansen, another special adviser at Ila.

Breivik, of course, will not be allowed to participate in these activities, at least not at the outset. Ms. Bjerke says the prison plans to introduce Breivik into its society “slowly and carefully.” He will serve at least the first year isolated in his special wing, with one room for exercise and another for reading and writing. He is allowed to go alone into a 20-by-20-meter open-air yard, secured by concrete walls and barbed wire overhead, but may not meet prisoners from other wings.

'We have certain rules and human rights'

After a while, though, the prison will have to allow him to socialize with the other inmates and give him a “job” to do. That could entail going to school, for which he would earn, like every other inmate, a wage of 50 kroner ($ 8.75) per day. He will even be allowed to vote and possibly go home for a brief visit after serving about seven years of his sentence.

“It is very clear for us that we have certain rules and human rights, so this is the way we are going to do this,” says Bjerke.

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