A former manager of a Norwegian prison, currently governor of South Correctional Services from the country of fjords, Arne Kvernvik Nilsen, wants to implement the human ecology concept in Cluj. The innovative concept has been already implemented in Norway for the rehabilitation of prisoners.
While in Cluj-Napoca these days, to hold a conference on human ecology within the event Human-Animal Interaction Day, hosted by the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of UBB (Babes Bolyai University), Arne Kvernvik Nilsen argues that the system could be also enforced in Romania as the prisons here are too large, overcrowded, while the inmates are practically left on the street after being released.
The main idea of this concept is to incorporate nature, but also principles from human and social sciences to turn prisoners from criminals into responsible human beings who can be reinserted into society after they are released. So it is like an outdoor prison, where prisoners live from what they work.
Nilsen argued that if you treat people like animals they will become animals, and if you treat them as human beings, then they will behave as such.
The Norwegian tested the human ecology concept in a project that has been running for about ten years in Bastoy, Norway, on an island with a prison, wherein prisoners don’t stay in cells, but in cottages, as in a camp, cook for themselves two meals a day, with dinner being served, work and live together as in a small village.
According to the governor, the theory is not only to accommodate a prisoner who perpetrated a crime and is behind bars, but the focus goes on how he is treated by the prison warden, by the guards, whether the former is respected or not. The aim is to make prisoners understand that they are responsible for their own life, for their actions, but also to help them find outwho they really are.
Arne Nilsen Kvernvik helped Romanian authorities implement a similar project in Grindu Tataru, in the Danube Delta, where a prison has been functioning since 2015 and which follows the Bastoy Prison pattern. Romanian prisoners live here in wood, brick and reed houses, which they built by themselves and can work outdoors, where they socialize among themselves. The project in Grindu Tataru was funded by Norwegian grants and was adjusted to the Romanian conditions.