Norwegian Prison System

Norwegian Prison System

1. Description.

*Number of prisons and type. On July 2, 1993,
there were 48 prisons, of which 5 were central
prisons (landsfengsler) and 43 were regional
prisons (kretsfengsler, hjelpefengsler and
arbeidskolonier). One of the central prisons
(Bredtvedt) was for females only. Most other
prisons contained prisoners of both sexes. Larger
prisons had special sections just for women.
There were no prisons solely used for juveniles.
(Fridhov, 1993).

*Number of prison beds. On July 2, 1993, there
were 1,831 places for prisoners in closed prison
institutions (lukkede anstalter) and 941 places in
open institutions (�pne anstalter)(Fridhov, 1993).
In open institutions there are no special security
measures taken to prevent prisoners escaping,
unlike those taken in closed institutions.

*Number of annual admissions. In 1991, there were
11,497 new admissions and 550 re-admissions to
penal institutions, indicating a 6% increase from
the previous year. (Criminal Statistics 1991,
1993: 123, 129).

*Average daily population/number of prisoners. In
1991, the average daily number of prisoners was
2,548, of which 124, or approximately 5%, were
women. A total of 4% of those admitted to prison
in 1991 were foreign citizens residing in Norway,
of which over half had originally come from Europe
(mainly from northern Europe), 9% from America,
14% from Africa and 28% from Asia. A total of 5%
of those admitted to prison were of unknown
citizenship. (Criminal Statistics 1991, 1993:

*Actual or estimated proportions of inmates
incarcerated. The following is the percentage of
convicted offenders admitted into prison in 1991
by crime type. (Criminal Statistics 1991, 1993:

Drug Crimes 9%
Violent Crimes (includes sexual
offenses, various forms of bodily
violence, murder) 12%
Property Crimes (includes theft) 15%
Other Crimes (includes fraud,
drunken driving, traffic offenses) 40%
Unknown 24%

2. Administration.

*Administration. All prisons in Norway are
financed and administered by the State.

*Number of prison guards. On July 2, 1993, there
were 1,534 prison guards. (Fridhov, 1993).

*Training and qualifications. Those seeking
recruitment as prison officers must be Norwegian
citizens, between 21 and 35 years old, and be of
good health and character. They must also have
successfully completed secondary schooling. (Lov
om fengselsvesenet 12. desember 1958 nr. 7; Prison
Act, Sect. 6).
All recruits must then complete a 2 year
course of study at the Norwegian Prison College
(Fengselsskolen) in Oslo, followed by one year’s
compulsory service in the prison system. (Fridhov,

*Expenditure on prison system. In 1992,
approximately NOK 1,200,000,000 was spent on
prisons. This sum includes money spent on building
and maintaining prison facilities but does not
include money spent on education, health and
culture programs for prisoners. (Fridhov, 1993).

3. Prison Conditions.

*Remissions. As a general rule, prisoners are
released on parole before the period for which
they have been sentenced has expired. Normally,
they are released once they have served at least
two-thirds of their sentence, which must at least
be 2 months, including time spent in custody. In
special circumstances, a prisoner can be released
on parole after half of the sentence has expired,
but this rarely occurs. (Andenaes, 1991: 357;
Prison Act, Sect. 35,36).

*Work/education. There are compulsory work schemesfor prisoners. However, those serving short
prison sentences may avoid having to participate
in these schemes if it is difficult to find
appropriate work activities for them. Prisoners
are paid for their work. (Prison Act, Sect.
Prisoners can participate in programs run by
the Ministry of Education. These programs are
offered at all educational levels (primary,
secondary and tertiary). (Andenaes, 1991: 351).

*Amenities/privileges. Prisoners have visitation
rights, postal correspondence rights, the right to
lodge written complaints, and the right to be
allowed outdoors for at least an hour each day.
(Prison Act, Sect. 22-25).
Most prisons have a priest who holds regular
church services for prisoners and helps organize
social events. At the larger prisons, there are
also social workers and sports and recreation
advisors whom prisoners can consult. Prisoners
are normally allowed to have televisions, radios
and magazines in their cells. In special
circumstances, they are also allowed to leave
prison for short periods, such as to visit a sick
relative. (Andenaes, 1991: 352; Prison Act, Sect.
There are no special treatment programs for
prisoners beyond ordinary medical services,
although it is possible to transfer prisoners to
other institutions for special treatment if
necessary. It is also possible for a prisoner
addicted to drugs to enter into a special contract
with the prison authorities. In this contract,
the prison authorities can offer and provide more
privileges on the condition that the prisoner
promises not to use drugs and agrees to undergo
regular urine tests to ensure the promise is being
kept. (Fridhov, 1993; Kriminalitet og rettsvesen,
1992: 62; Prison Act, Sect. 12,32).

Note: this work was completed in 1993


See Also

  • Criminal Justice
  • Legal System
  • Criminology
  • Norwegian Criminal Justice System

Further Reading

  • Cole, George F., S. J. Frankowski, and M. G. Gertz, (1987) Major Criminal Justice Systems. Beverly Hills: Sage.
  • David, R. and J. E. Brierley (1968) Major Legal Systems of the World Today. London: Free Press.
  • Fairchild, E. (1993), Comparative criminal justice systems. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
  • Feeley, Malcolm M. (1973), “Two models of the criminal justice system”. Law and Society Review, 7(3): 407-425.

Leave a Comment