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Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners 752

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the literal-land-of-the-free dept.
rtoz writes "Sweden is taking steps to close many prisons due to lack of prisoners. This year alone, four prisons and a detention center got closed in Sweden. The percentage of the population in Sweden prison is significantly lower than in most other countries. ... Though the Swedish Government is taking steps to close the prisons, the crime rate in Sweden has increased slightly. It seems they are planning to take steps for preventing crime rather than focusing on jailing people involved in criminal activities."
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Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners

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  • can they (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:03AM (#45397753)

    be outsourced? This is EXACTLY what USA need.

    • Sure (Score:5, Funny)

      by mrwolf007 (1116997) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:46AM (#45398161)

      But they just dont have enough space for all the NSA employees.

    • by teg (97890)

      be outsourced? This is EXACTLY what USA need.

      Not likely an attractive option:

      • Sweden is a rather expensive country - the standard of living, cost level etc. are higher than in the US
      • Sweden focuses on treatment to avoid relapse into crime, rather than punishment for its own sake. Thus, the prisoners would be treated far too well for US' tastes.
      • I'm sure Sweden would like to avoid any chance of US criminals ending up living in Sweden afterwards...
      • Re:can they (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jythie (914043) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:25AM (#45400245)
        Sad thing is the whole 'treatment over punishment' thing was originally an American system that other countries copied because it was working fairly well, but then the US abandoned it favor of righteous suffering.
    • Lead (Score:5, Informative)

      by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @08:21AM (#45399375)
      One reason for the almost world-wide reduction in crime is the reduction of lead in the environment, thanks to unleaded fuel.
    • Re:can they (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @09:19AM (#45399673)
      The problem of the US prisons is pretty well exactly that of England before the American Revolution - private prisons that make a profit out of a government that they ask, with inducements, to send a lot of people their way for minor crimes. The only real difference is the US taxpayer is supplying the profits instead of the prisoners paying a lot of it.
      • Re:can they (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dj245 (732906) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @10:35AM (#45400347) Homepage

        The problem of the US prisons is pretty well exactly that of England before the American Revolution - private prisons that make a profit out of a government that they ask, with inducements, to send a lot of people their way for minor crimes. The only real difference is the US taxpayer is supplying the profits instead of the prisoners paying a lot of it.

        This is a problem, but the bigger problem is that the US system is focused on punishment rather than rehabilitation. Rather than trying to bring these people back into society and make them productive and upstanding citizens, we push them to the margins. We make finding a job after prison exceedingly difficult and only the most menial and low-class jobs will accept former criminals. We strip citizens of the right to vote, which devalues them. We have very lengthy sentences (To punish those evildoers!) for fairly harmless crimes, which is devastating to families and pushes people into poverty needlessly. Depending on the crime, we put them on lists and track them for life which makes their post-prison lives difficult.

        Sweden, on the other hand, focuses on bringing people who have strayed from the path back into society. Their methods work. However, if anyone in the US wants to employ their methods, they are seen as "soft on crime" at worst. At best, they can't get the funding needed to enact meaningful rehabilitation programs. It is far cheaper (in the short term) and easier to put people in cages compared to education and rehabilitation.

  • by Laxori666 (748529) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:04AM (#45397763) Homepage
    Just think of how many jobs will be lost by the closing of these prisons! Surely there must be something we can do to prevent this calamity from continuing. Maybe the government should subsidize crime to encourage more criminals so that these jobs are safe. Or make a bunch of things illegal that aren't, currently, to increase the incarceration rate. Cause more jobs = better economy as we all know.
    • by EdIII (1114411)

      You know it might just be possible that Swedish prisons were actually working to rehabilitate the prisoners. Victims of their own success?

    • end of scarcity (Score:3, Insightful)

      by globaljustin (574257)

      Cause more jobs = better economy as we all know.

      right?

      I understand what you're saying and i'm starting to become more sure about an idea that's been around for awhile...

      I think the economic concept of ***scarcity*** itself is being rendered statistically irrelevant because of technology

      technology is solving so many of our problems that we really don't **need** to work as much as we used to...

      at least theoretically...right? or WTF else do we bother making and using these flaming gadgets?

      look at food producti

  • Tragic... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad@arnett.notforhire@org> on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:07AM (#45397769)
    Well, tragic that the prison industry is too profitable in the US to follow suit, anyway.
  • by musixman (1713146) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:07AM (#45397771)
    See what happens when you provide free health care, childcare & social services to prevent crimes based on poverty and drug use!
    • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:33AM (#45397887)

      Drug use is not the problem, nor is it something that needs to be prevented. In fact, you get rid of the bullshit, it practically prevents itself.

      The vast majority of all drug use is not harmful to society. Let's face some facts here. Alcohol is far more dangerous to health and safety than most drugs have ever been combined. Let's also be realistic and set aside marijuana into another category; Use and Distribution. Only its distribution is associated with crimes beyond the act of distribution itself. Crimes associated with use are less prevalent and damaging than crimes associated with alcohol. IIRC, several campuses have outright admitted they wished there was more weed usage than alcohol usage for that same reason.

      An artificial economy created by prohibition is responsible for the crimes. If an addict could get meth/heroin/coke cheaply at a pharmacy along with the opportunity for help that would eliminate most of the problems.

      We never did learn any lessons from prohibition of alcohol did we?

      • by phoenix_rizzen (256998) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:11AM (#45398007)

        Wait. So, prohibition is bad. But the one drug that is no longer prohibited is now the worst offender of all? Me thinks you need to rethink that argument.

        • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @03:16AM (#45398291) Homepage Journal

          But the one drug that is no longer prohibited is now the worst offender of all? Me thinks you need to rethink that argument.

          It still makes sense if you look at it in the context of that as bad as alcohol is now, as bad as it was before prohibition, the net effects of it's prohibition on society was worse. Alcohol poisonings went up. Hell, our own government caused a number of deaths by deliberately poisoning alcohol in a weird "Drinking is bad! Let's make it worse! by deliberately poisoning it and maybe people will stop!" line of thinking. You vastly empowered organized crime(the 'mobs' of the day, 'gangs' today), got violence on the street, incredible incentives for police to become corrupt, the shift from 'officer of the peace' to 'law enforcement', etc...

          My support for legalizing drugs is pure harm mitigation, not harm prevention. Because prevention isn't working even at huge expense.

        • So, prohibition is bad.

          Yes.

          But the one drug that is no longer prohibited is now the worst offender of all?

          Yes.

          Me thinks you need to rethink that argument.

          No. All you need do is look at what happened when the most popular drug was prohibited. Way worse.

    • by LordLucless (582312) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:52AM (#45398191)

      Yeah, I'm sure it's because they have free childcare, and not because don't they send in a SWAT team every time someone lights up a joint.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@worldCHEETAH3.net minus cat> on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @08:32AM (#45399417) Homepage

        Actually it is because of free childcare. When even the poorest people can get access to high quality care for their children, giving them time to work while not letting their children be neglected or miss out on those crucial early years development, it tends to improve their children's life chances greatly. That in turn reduces the chance that those children will turn to crime as an alternative to a law abiding life, because they feel they have some change to make something of themselves and were not abandoned by society.

    • Socialism myth (Score:5, Informative)

      by denoir (960304) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @05:10AM (#45398741)

      I'm not sure why there is this weird myth in the US about Sweden being "socialist". We've had a right wing government for the past 8 years. There has also been in the past two decades a sharp turn towards libertarian ideology in Sweden (our right is not socially conservative) and this is also true for the social democrats who have very little of socialism left in them.

      Health care isn't free, nor are child care and social services. They are in some cases heavily subsidized, but definitely not free. It is accessible to everyone and it works very well for most people and their needs. It sort of sucks for more advanced medicine: If you are going to have a child for instance, it's superb while if you have say lung cancer, your chances are much better if you have the operation in the US.

      The rather dysfunctional medical care system in the US is not a socialist/capitalist thing - it's just a system that doesn't work very well for a lot of people. The insurance model of financing healthcare is for instance very questionable etc.

      As for other stuff such as taxes, I could mention stuff like that Sweden has no inheritance taxes, no real estate taxes or that the financial system is orders of magnitude less regulated than the US one etc Sweden is also somewhat of a corporate tax haven - with the right corporate structure you can get away with paying very little taxes. The bottom line is that from a Swedish perspective at least in in some respects the US is far more socialist than Sweden.

      Ideologically you could say that the typical Swede is a pragmatic individualist who thinks that the role of the state is to protect, liberate and enable the individual. Unlike a 'pure' socialist system the role of the state is limited to problems it actually can solve. Unlike a 'pure' capitalist system the state has an enabling role as well (positive freedoms) rather than just a protective role (negative freedoms). If you things those concepts are muddled, you are quite right. Hence the pragmatism. And it sort of works. It's far from perfect. It's very disappointing to those that wish to classify it ideologically. There are many small issues and some huge ones (integration into society of immigrants is one example) but on the whole it is a decent society - and much better off than 30 years ago when it was much easier to classify ideologically.

  • Remember when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:10AM (#45397783)
    Remember when American schoolchildren were taught that communism was evil (and by extension, socialism was suspect) because the Soviet Union, had more prisoners per capita than the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?

    All those precious moments of a Cold War youth, and all I have to show for them is that I saw them go down the memory hole.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:11AM (#45397787) Journal
    This is the sort of thing you see in countries deeply afflicted with the European-socialist culture of dependency and waste. First, the state wastefully builds a bunch of white-elephant infrastructure projects, rather than embarking on an Efficient private contract; because it's somebody else's money they are spending.

    Then, when those projects stand empty, the state just expects somebody to give them customers (we worked so hard, don't we deserve to succeed?) and then throws up its hands in limp-wristed failure and admits defeat, rather than going out there and making customers through good, old-fashioned, hard work and brutal overcriminalization of all sorts of petty offenses.

    This, my friends, is what a sick society looks like. I bet they try to hide their shame by cooking up a bunch of fancy statistics about how good their human development index rankings, life expectancy, and similar ivory-tower nonsense are; but you can't hide moral sickness this profound.
    • by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad@arnett.notforhire@org> on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:18AM (#45397805)
      The most disturbing thing to me is that, on a different site, that comment could be construed as both, serious AND insightful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:27AM (#45397857)

    On the other hand, our neighbors to the West are fine with jailing a MS patient for using pot to help her with her condition: http://www.thelocal.se/20080125/9775

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:29AM (#45397867)

    As they where locked out of other choices.

    Also some homeless people go in and out of jails as well.

  • by renzhi (2216300) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:29AM (#45397869)
    Why closing them? They should outsource/rent to the Americans, I'm sure they could make some money and create more jobs at the same time.
  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:32AM (#45397883)

    does Sweden have mental health centers to help people unlike the us that shout some down and the people just moved to prisons.

  • by SlovakWakko (1025878) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @01:59AM (#45397971)
    Don't mess with the equilibrium. Less criminals means less need for cops means more unemplyed cops who usually go into organized crime means more criminals means you need to hire more cops means less crime means... - OMG, it's just a way to get the whole population into organized crime!
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:15AM (#45398031) Homepage Journal
    Why don't we outsource our prisons to Sweden? They get to keep their prisons and I bet they can implement them for a lot less expense than American prisons! Then everyone's a winner!
  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Tuesday November 12, 2013 @02:50AM (#45398179)

    Swedish prisoners have a better life in general than people in the USA in a minimum wage job. They get better housing, food and work hours, plus they get education, health care and all, so they have a chance to stay out of prison once their punishment is over. Bonus: they get to keep their voting rights after they are out, so they are still part of the democratic process that is the base of the laws that put them in prison in the first place.

    Maybe it's time the USA starts looking at how Sweden gets this accomplished and use that as an inspiration to improve. If even the prisoners there have it better than over a quarter of the free people in the USA, you'd say there should be improvements to be found.

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