Let’s say you live in the socialist, pacifist, nanny state paradise of Norway and you decide for some inexplicable reason that you want to commit a decidedly antisocial act like rape and/or murder. What sort of deterrents are in place — beyond the inherent utopian living conditions — that might change your mind about such a course of action?

Of course, it goes without saying that there is no death penalty in such a progressive northern European country. Such state-sanctioned barbarism is a thing of the distant and misguided past. Well, then, what about life in prison? That would certainly be the next most reasonable alternative for many murders, especially those that were premeditated or of a particularly brutal nature.

Uh, no. No life prison sentences in Norway. It just wouldn’t be humane. The maximum sentence allowed is 21 years and only a small percentage serve more than two thirds of that.

So the possibility of a 21-year sentence is the absolute worst punishment someone could expect for a heinous crime. Okay, but 21 years is nothing to sneeze at, right? How would you like to give up 21 years out of your life?

Well, actually, if those years were to be spent at Bastoey Prison, a lockup on a lush island just off the Norwegian coast, it wouldn’t be half bad. In fact, it sounds like the kind of place where people pay to spend time. From an article about the “prison”:

Without locked gates or barbed wire, the prison operates with solar panels, wood-fire heating instead of oil, strict recycling and eco-friendly food production — a 10-year project officials say was aimed at helping the roughly 115 prisoners learn values such as protecting the environment and respecting others.

“Our job is to create the best possible development opportunities for the individual, and lay the foundation for possible changes,” said prison director Oeyvind Alnaes.

The Bastoey facility, where inmates include murderers and rapists, is nothing like the grim vision of prisons with barred doors that slam shut with a resounding clang during lock-downs. It is lush green in summer, with beaches and an adjacent nature preserve.

At Bastoey, inmates can study, seek counseling, play tennis, have their own TV and swim in the waters around the island . . .”

Lovely! Where do I sign up and how long is the waiting list?

Inmates live in houses, are not locked in and are responsible for the care of about 200 chickens, eight horses, 40 sheep and 20 cows. They also tend the fields, pick berries and fish on the prison’s 30-foot boat.

The western United States is full of dude ranches where people pay top dollar to endure conditions far more rigorous — and far less ecologically correct.

All of the prison’s agricultural products are raised without artificial chemicals, such as insecticides or man-made fertilizers, and with humane treatment of livestock. It also strives to be energy self-sufficient, using renewable power.

Alnaes said the prison’s philosophy is what he called “human ecology.”

“Living in an environment that gives them individual responsibility, challenges and demands . . . can motivate inmates to change their behavior,” he said.

The progressiveness of it all is breathtaking and enough to warm the cockles of your heart. Unless–

Unless someone has raped and murdered your wife/daughter/sister/mother, take your pick. Would you then be okay with the killer ambling off to Bastoey Prison to serve out an absurdly weak sentence that is more akin to an extended boy scout excursion than to something remotely resembling punishment?

But let’s give Bastoey — and the psychobabble that inspired it — the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe it really will do a better job of reforming hardened criminals than traditional prisons with bars and harsh conditions. What about deterring crime in the first place? If you wanted to commit a serious crime and you had reason to believe that if you got caught, instead of ending up being someone named Mad Dog’s prison bitch in an eight by four cell, you would instead go on an all-expenses-paid island vacation for a few years, wouldn’t you be more willing to risk doing the crime?

Only in a postmodern, northern European, pacifist nanny state could this pass for wisdom and justice.

Greg Strange provides conservative commentary with plenty of acerbic wit on the people, politics, events and absurdities of our time. See more at his website: http://www.greg-strange.com/. Also, check out his “Religion of Peace” World News Round-up for all the latest Islamic absurdities and tidbits.

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