Hi friends. I’ve spent quite a lot of time on YouTube over the last few days, as I signed up for a free trial of YouTube Premium. This means no ads and a considerably better viewing experience. While using YouTube without ads has been wonderful, I’ve still found myself skipping around content quite a lot looking for videos that will educate or inspire me.
And, WOW. I stumbled upon something which had a profound impact on me. I have for many years been a supporter of the idea of a justice system that rehabilitates rather than punishes. As I explained in this post from 2012, I feel that aggressive forms of punishment for criminals only continue the cycle of bullying, fear, anger, and hatred, and do little to rectify society’s ills.
When I spotted a video this evening on YouTube entitled How Norway Designed a More Humane Prison, my interest was piqued. I think that the idea of compassionate justice is so alien to us in the West that I had never really considered places of imprisonment could be humane to this degree.
What the video made me realise is that so much of what I struggle with on a daily basis comes from fear of the kind of violence and oppression that is commonplace in prisons in Britain and America. Please don’t get me wrong. I haven’t committed any crimes. But I realised I have been living for many years with a subconscious fear of accidentally breaking the law in some way and ending up in a prison where I would suffer violence and intimidation.
If Britain were to introduce prisons of the kind featured in this video, it would be liberating in a way that could be really transformative. That underlying sense of fear — which is perpetuated by the media and politicians, I might add — would be lifted, and I for one would feel so much freer — not free to commit crimes, but free to just relax and focus on contributing to society in a positive way. I feel that without the fear of harsh imprisonment most of us would be kinder and better people, because, paradoxically, fear of being bullied is actually the cause of most bullying.
This really is a perspective shifting moment for me, and I hope some of you, after watching the video below, will feel the same way. I immediately feel more motivated to campaign for humane prisons in the UK, and I really hope some of my American readers will be inspired by this video, because I know rates of incarceration in the States are especially high.
As I write this I have a vision of a future where populations do not live in fear of punishment, and where this actually reduces rather than increases crime. This is huge for me. I’m realising that prisons are a major cause of crime rather than functioning to prevent it. Crikey, praise God for this revelation.
I’ll leave the comments open below and you’re welcome to share your thoughts.
Here’s the video: