In the month of August, I had the opportunity to travel to Norway with an organization called One Voice United. One Voice United has collaborated with several unions across the country to give union members in correctional institutions a voice in the national conversations about the corrections and the criminal justice system.
While in Norway we were briefed about the history of the Norwegian system, we had two prison tours, went to the Norwegian correctional employees Training Academy, as well as the Parliament and had a discussion about criminal justice reform.
We discussed how the prison systems in the United States ran. Each state is different but the general procedures are very similar. While in the prisons we learned the different procedures that worked effectively for the staff and offenders.
The offenders in Norway are treated with respect and dignity. All the citizens in Norway believe in the system. They believe that if you treat the offenders with respect and dignity they will become productive members of society and may learn from the crime they committed. All offenders are afforded the same welfare system as all Norway citizens, which is free higher education, they go to outside medical facilities (same as the Norwegian citizens) plus more. Everyone says that the offender may be their neighbor one day so they believe that the system works by treating them fair.
One of the most important aspects that was taken from the trip was that the Norwegian unions have a voice with the Parliament when it comes to any decisions being made regarding the prisons, staff and offenders.
The Norwegian prison system is known to be one of the best in the world. Some of their policies and procedures work but its system has been in place for several years. The staff lifespan is the same as a regular citizen but they do still experience the work trauma. Norwegian prison staff are looking to incorporate some union language regarding the wellness of the staff. They experience staff suicides the same as the United States.
So as the Correctional Supervisor Council we will continue to fight for our members wellness and ensure the safety and security of the facility is not jeopardized. We hope to one day have a seat at the table and make the decisions for the prison system.
CSC/NP-8 Executive Vice