“ET FENGSEL ER ET FENGSEL, MEN…”
In the article I discuss the ideology underlying the Norwegian Correctional Service’s institutions’ treatment of prisoners, analyzing some of its core concepts, such as “humanism”, “normalizing”, “rehabilitation”, “subject- and objectifying”. The article emphasizes
that the service has developed through two basic ideas; understanding prisons as (i) penal institutions; and (ii) institutions for rehabilitation. Both of these ideas have been strongly influenced by modern and traditional managerial principles, which are strongly governed
by economic considerations and efficiency demands. The historical analysis reveals the roots of the prison system as a penal institution with rigid disciplinary, control and security practices, which dominate and influence the institution’s content and form. The ideology of rehabilitation, which contrasts this view, can be separated into two directions and forms of practice, wherein one is adjusted to the system (and not the individual) and the other is somewhat more adjusted to the individual. In the article, I argue that the contradictions in the prison system stems from its historical and ideological roots. Furthermore, I argue that the prison system has been characterized by a fixation on practice, wherein the measures for rehabilitation and treatment of the prisoners implies a technocratic and objectifying perspective. The prison system remains a repressive and powerful system that has to be studied and discussed more thoroughly. We tend to focus on the positive functions of the system, neglecting that the system also inflicts inhumanity and suffering.
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