Norwegian Prison Population in Numbers
In 2020, there were 34 administrative units consisting of 58 prisons in Norway; 2/3 of them were high security prisons. The prisons include eight transitional housings (overgangsboliger).
December 31, 2018, there were 3.854 prison places. Of these 217 are for women. The reported operating capacity was 89%.
In 2019, the largest prisons according to prison places were: Ullersmo 286; Halden 277; Oslo 240; Bergen 203; Åna 164; Ila 124; Nye Kongsvinger 117, Eidsberg 102.
There are two units for young prisoners (aged 15-18) with four places each.
There are various ways of counting prisoners. In 2018, there were (Statistics Norway, 2020):
Norway and other Nordic countries have low numbers of daily average prisoners compared to USA and most European countries. In 2016, USA had 655 per 100,000 inhabitants (WPB 2020).
In 2020, England had 133 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants (WPB 2020), among the highest rates in Western Europe.
In Norway in 2018, 55% of releases from prison took place within three months; almost 71% took place within 6 months and 85% of releases were within one year. Some spend years in prison: 14% of releases took place after 1 to 5 years and a few after 10 to 15 years.
In Norway, an increasing number of people have been imprisoned from the 1960s until today:
The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (2017) states: “From 2005 to 2016 the number of prison days increased by 70% …[while] the number of sentences decreased by 15%” (section 1.3.1).
From 2015 to 2018, the prison situation has changed: The number of prisoners has decreased while the length of sentences have been increased. This reflects that more often serious law-breaks, like violence and sexual offenses, are taken to court and sentenced.
A larger part of the prison population is older than previously.
For 2020-2021, the Ministry has developed plans to reduce isolation in prison; improve prison conditions; and to increase the number of people serving unconditional prison sentence at home, by electronic monitoring.
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Kriminalomsorgen [The Norwegian Correctional Service]. (2020). Kriminalomsorgens årsstatistikk 2019 [The Norwegian Correctional Service 2019] (2020). Lillestrom: Kriminalomsorgen [The Norwegian Correctional Service]. [Online.] Available at https://www.kriminalomsorgen.no/getfile.php/4768782.823.77npnkalujumpt/Kriminalomsorgens+%C3%A5rsstatistikk+2019.pdf
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Available at https://www.ssb.no/a/histstat/hs1978/hs1978.pdf
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World Prison Brief (WPB). Institute for Criminal Policy Research. www.prisonstudies.org/about-us.