- The queue of persons waiting to serve prison sentences is rapidly shortening, according to an unmistakably clear message from Norway’s Minister of Justice, Knut Storberget, at a press conference held at Oslo Prison yesterday. For the first time in 10 years, the number of persons in the queue stands now at less than 1000. This long-awaited achievement was celebrated in the traditional manner over freshly brewed coffee and traditional Norwegian marzipan-coated, fresh cream cake, in the company of trade union leaders Geir Bjørkly (NFF) and Knut Svenkerud (KY).
Text and Photo: Knut-Erik Rønningen, published 15.02.08.
- A fantastic achievement, but the activities of the Norwegian correctional services will never be a complete success if we just measure queues and figures, commented Knut Storberget, before adding, - now we have an excellent opportunity; now is the time for us to put all our efforts into improving the content of prison sentencing programs and activities. He was keen to further emphasize that these encouraging figures do not mean the job has finally been done. – All the same, we now have a vastly improved basis for focusing more on the welfare, training and rehabilitation of prisoners. It is important now to prioritise qualitive aspects, and to cease being so focused on being judgemental, he concluded.
Positive trade union leaders
Both Geir Bjørkly and Knut Svenkerud congratulated the Minister of Justice, praising him for his goal-oriented approach which had now delivered results. - This fight has really cost us more than we were prepared to accept, and it is therefore very positive that we can now see light in the tunnel, commented Geir Bjørkly.
Knut Svenkerud wished to emphasise that he supported the Minister’s focus on improving the quality of custodial sentences. However, he also ceased the opportunity to present other expectations he had for the future. - I expect the coming White Paper to include something about the future education and training of prison officers and the opportunity to receive an education that can provide us with a correct and acceptable level of social status. This is important in order for us to obtain the degree of quality we all seek, and so that we can pay the officers an acceptable salary, he concluded.
Click here Queue soon gone – at lowest for 10 years to read the complete press release (only in Norwegian).
Click here ‘Lørdagsrevyen’ to see the sequence from the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation’s (NRK) Saturday evening news bulletin - unfortunately Kenth was edited out of it!