Norway Requests to Rent Prison Space from Sweden

January 10, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. dramatic /drəˈmætɪk/ (adj.) – sudden and significant
Example: The stricter law enforcement led to a dramatic decrease in crime rates.      

2. shade /ʃeɪd/ (n.) – a small amount or difference, a trace
Example: The police force should work harder because this year’s crime rate is just a shade better than last year.  

3. rehabilitate /ˌrihəˈbɪlɪˌteɪt/ (v.) – to restore health or good condition
Example: Rehabilitated prisoners are less likely to commit crime again. 

4. criminology /ˌkrɪməˈnɒlədʒi/ (n.) – the study of crime, criminals and their punishments
Example: John studied criminology and became a police officer.    

5. probation /proʊˈbeɪʃən/ (n.) – court supervision of a criminal outside of prison
Example: Criminals of minor offenses are often punished with probation instead of imprisonment.     


Read the text below.
Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen [AH-noo n-suh n] announced last December that Norway has requested to rent prison space from Sweden.

Norway no longer has space for 1,200 inmates, which authorities say is becoming a serious threat to law and order. On the other hand, Sweden has closed four of its prisons after a dramatic decline in the number of its inmates.

Norway has 71 prisoners for every 100,000 of its population, just a shade above Sweden’s 67 per 100,000. The United States locks up the most people at 716 per 100,000.

From a peak of 5,722 prisoners in 2004, Sweden only had 4,852 prisoners in 2012 out of a population of 9.5 million. The prison population in Sweden dropped by six percent between 2011 and 2012 and is expected to continue dropping in the future.

Nils Oberg, the head of Sweden's prison services, said a reason for the drop in prison population could be the country’s efforts to rehabilitate prisoners and prevent relapse of crime. Swedish courts also started giving lighter sentences for drug offenses in 2011. In effect, there were 200 fewer people in jail for drug offenses last March compared to the previous year.

On another note, Criminology professor Hanns von Hofer says the drop in prisoners is due to a recent shift in policy. Certain short jail terms are now replaced by probation.

The Swedish justice ministry is still considering the proposal and is not ready to comment on it yet, said spokesperson Per Clareus. Belgium was the first country to send inmates abroad in 2010. Belgium sent 500 inmates to the Netherlands, which costs $41 million per year.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is appropriate to rent prison space from another country? Why or why not?
·         In your opinion, what can a country do to reduce its crime rate? Please explain briefly. 

Discussion B

·         Is it important to have a good relationship between different countries? Why or why not?
·         How can countries maintain a good relationship with each other? Please explain briefly.


January 10, 2014