Guilty or not, Breivik to have ‘humane’ conditions

Guilty or not, Breivik to have ‘humane’ conditions

Guilty or not, Breivik to have ‘humane’ conditions

A normal cell at inside Ila prison, just outside Oslo, where Breivik has been held most of the time since the July 22 attacks, is seen in this photo.

Norwegian gunman Anders Behring Breivik is set to spend the foreseeable future at a high-security and comfortable prison whether a court sentences him to prison or closed psychiatric care for his massacre in Oslo last July.

Since Breivik’s guilt is not in question, the key decision for the Oslo district court today is whether to declare him insane after two psychiatric teams reached opposite conclusions on his mental health. The 33-year-old right-wing extremist has confessed to last year’s twin attacks that left 77 people dead, but faced with contradictory expert opinions, the five district court judges must decide whether he is sane, meaning he will go to jail, or insane, meaning he will go to a mental asylum. Regardless of the decision, Breivik is set for incarceration in the top-security Ila prison just outside Oslo, Agence France-Presse reported

If declared insane, Breivik will be the sole patient of a psychiatric ward that Norway has built just for him, with 17 people on staff to treat him. It cost between $340,000 and $510,000, according to Norway’s Health Ministry. If found to be mentally fit, he will remain isolated, for now, in the relatively dingy and bare cells, each measuring eight square meters. One is for sleeping, one is for physical exercise with workout machines, and one is a workspace that has a laptop nailed to a desk.

Breivik would face a sentence of “preventive detention,” if he is found mentally fit. Unlike a regular prison sentence, which can be no longer than 21 years in Norway, that confinement option can be extended for as long as an inmate is considered dangerous to society. It also offers more programs and therapy than an ordinary prison sentence.

The computer at the Ila Prison is not connected to Internet, to prevent communication with the outside world, but according to tabloid Verdens Gang (VG) it does feature an offline version of the encyclopedia Wikipedia. He is also free to communicate with the outside world with letters. His defense lawyers have said he is already planning to write books building on the 1,500-page manual on far-right terror he released before the attacks.

Humane prison regime

Officials say the ambition would be to eventually transfer Breivik to a section with other prisoners, who have access to a school that features all levels of education, a library, a gym and other leisure activities and who can find work in the prison’s various shops, The Associated Press reported. The prison life forms part of the philosophy of humane prison treatment and rehabilitation that forms the bedrock of the Scandinavian penal system. “He has human rights. This is about creating a humane prison regime,” said a spokeswoman for Ila Prison.

Prison officials say the special measures for Breivik are justified because he presents a security risk that Norway’s prison have not previously had to deal with. Whatever the outcome, Breivik has already proved to be so dangerous that legal experts say he is not likely to walk free until he is very elderly, if at all.