Sunday, September 09, 2007

You Aren't Going to the BIG House....

...You are going to the GREEN house! An article on Norway's innovative "World's First Ecological Prison." Read the article, and I'll share some thoughts in a moment.....

Prisons probably aren't the first buildings that spring to mind when you think about green design and architecture. Yet one small island in Norway is set to change that perception with the recent introduction of the "world's first ecological prison" — a facility powered by solar energy that will put its inmates to work coordinating daily operations, such as recycling and food production, and learning their part to protect the environment.

Norwegian authorities hope to thus instill a sense of responsibility in their inmates and to better prepare them for an eco-conscious life once they leave the prison. The facility, which is located on Bastoey Island (about 46 mi south of Oslo), houses 115 inmates. Justice Minister Knut Storberget explained that "from a social and economic perspective, this is cheapest for society," adding that it only made sense for a prison already renowned for its pleasant living conditions — resembling a summer camp more than a conventional prison with activities like tennis, horse riding and swimming — to go that extra step to rehabilitate its inmates.

Running costs at the Bastoey facility are lower than at most traditional prisons — which often require more officers to supervise the inmates. The prison produces its own high-quality organic food with the help of grants from several environmental organizations, and it is surrounded by beaches and verdant fields. Its solar panels cut its electricity needs by close to 70%.

The inmates have few complaints: "We are given full freedom within a limited area," said Erik, a hobby carpenter who helped put up the solar panels. Another inmate stated that, "This is like a holiday camp compared to a closed facility." It hardly even seems like a prison to us anymore.

All right. Here goes. (AHEM).

1. ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDIN' ME? Tennis, horseback riding, and swimming? Beaches and verdant fields?
2. Getting grants from environmental organziations does NOT cut costs. It simply transfers costs from taxpayers to morons. I approve, mind you (think of the harm those bed-wetters could have done with those grants!), but let's not imagine that this is a solution for reducing costs at NC or OK.
3. Solar panels? SOLAR PANELS? Do you see a problem with that? Norway doesn't need air conditioning, for the most part. (weather data for Norway). So, when the sun is up for 15 or more hours a day, in the HVAC is used. In Norway, in the winter, it is COLD. COLD and DARK. cold AND dark. Do you see where I am going with this? Solar panels? I choked when I read it.

If you cherry pick the best behaved inmates, put them in a resort area without charging yourself the opportunity cost of the real estate, or the capital costs of the incredibly expensive solar panels, and then take some of your operating costs out of grants given to you by dim bulbs (probably flourescent!), then: Yes, it will appear you are running a low cost prison. Now please shut up.


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Andrew Holden said...

It's an isolated island, it just happens to be a nice place to have a prison. It's a reward for good behaviour!

How silly of you to think grants in any way pay for this! The environmental grants are symbolic, the cost of running any prison is always paid for by the government obviously. You read too much into it.

We actually *do* need AC during summer, but that's not why we want power! We use electricity for lights and other electronics.

In summer we can have as much as 35C, and that's too hot for most Norwegians!

The solar panels work just *fine* in Norway both summer and winter. We don't have permanent dark winters! There's plenty of daylight even then. I know since I own solar panels here.

Of course they only pick the best inmates! They are the one's with a chance at rehabilitation. They are going to be released any way soon!

P.S. You obviously know nothing about the costs of running a prison if you think that solar panels are somehow expensive!

The *real* costs have been published in Norwegian, and show's a very real difference in costs. The prison is not even aiming to be the cheapest, just the greenest!