Sweden closes 4 prisons, not enough prisoners

Various global headlines over the years have made Swedish prisons famous for their almost-gentle, humanitarian approach to punishment, and it could be that those efforts are paying off.

The head of Sweden’s prison operations Nils Oberg announced that 4 Swedish prisons would be closing due to a 6% drop in the prisoner population.

Sweden’s jailtime policies seem relaxed almost to the point of fantasy from an American perspective. The maximum sentence for even the worst offenders are rarely more than ten years, and whenever possible the Swedish justice system attempts to use non-prison rehabilitation methods rather than jail time.

Post prison rehabilitation is also a lot stronger in Sweden. Unlike the US, the Swedish government offers a supervised transition back into society for ex-cons and guarantees treatment for those suffering from drug addictions or mental health problems.

The programs and situation sharply contrast the US, where decades-long sentences are handed out for non-violent crimes regularly and prisons are at 39% over capacity as of 2011.