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Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

Norway's Eco Prison

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"They Will Be Your Neighbor One Day"

Welcome to Bastoy Prison, located on an island in Norway.

The island facility holds 115 prisoners, including murderers and rapists that are at the end of their prison sentence. They live in houses, are not locked in and are responsible for the care of about 200 chickens, eight horses, 40 sheep and 20 cows. They also tend the fields, pick berries and fish on the prison's 30-foot boat.

This is the world's first eco-prison. The focus is on an environmentally friendly jail sentence. It's aimed at easing the transition for prisoners about to be set free.

The prison is largely self sufficient and produces most of it's own food and energy.

Warden Oyvind Alnaes: "If I teach a prisoner to behave and not be a criminal, I have to treat them like an ordinary citizen and not like a criminal. The important thing to realize is that all the criminals in Norway will be released one day, they will be your neighbor one day, and we are trying to rehabilitate them. We are trying to help them be good ordinary citizens."

Can this work in other countries? Some facts: 71 out of every 100,000 Norwegian citizens is incarcerated. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate, with 743 out of every 100,000 citizens was incarcerated in 2009.

The recidivism rate for prisoners in Norway is around 20 percent. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 67 percent of America’s prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated.

Something's not working.

Can we integrate aspects of this Norwegian success story and introduce elements of a holistic approach in the US prison system?

--Bibi Farber

This video was produced by Al Jazeera