Solar panels installed and food produced on site in new facility near Oslo

Norway has set up an ecological prison where inmates learn how to become environmentally friendly. The Bastoey Island low security prison uses solar panels for heating and produces its own food.

The idea behind the eco-friendly prison is to teach inmates to take responsibility for their actions. “What you do to nature, you do to yourself,” said Norway's minister of justice, Knut Storberget. “Humans are a part of the nature.”

Located 46 miles south of Oslo, the prison grounds are surrounded by beaches and green fields which extend into a nature reserve. Prisoners help with the daily operations of the prison along with raising cattle, sheep and chickens; providing food for the inmates. The electricity bills have been reduced by using oil and wood for heating and all waste is recycled. Cars which use petrol and create high amounts of C02 emissions are starting to be replaced with a hybrid version, using diesel instead.

The running costs of the prison are kept to a minimum and it is cheaper than ordinary closed or maximum security prisons, where more staff are needed. Storberget believes teaching offenders to care for the nature around them can influence other aspects of their lives, such learning to care for people. “The prisoners are taught about human ecology and use a working model to change behaviour,” he said.

Prisoners can stay at Bastoey Island for up to five years before release. The prison is the first of its kind but Storborget says there are no plans to open any other ecological prisons in the near future. “It is a good tool to teach prisoners good values and teach them to take responsibility for their actions and their future,” he said.