February 4, 2023

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Prisons in the North Use Security Cells the Least – NRK Nordland

Imagine a room.

The walls are smooth. There is a mattress on the floor.

If you have to go to the toilet, the only option is a hole in the floor.

Around the country’s prisons there is such a room. security cell.

– If you want an idea of ​​what it’s like, just lock yourself in the bathroom and stay there for half an hour without a phone.

That’s what Bjorn Eduard Amadeus Ramstad-Runes, who is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence, says.

The 29-year-old is one of those who tested being put in a security cell.

CELL: This is one of two security cells in Bodo Prison.

Photo: Dina Tegnander/NRK

Inmates may be placed in security cells if it is absolutely necessary to prevent the person from harming himself or others.

This should be a last resort prison, and not used as punishment per se.

Prisons have no opportunity to process prisoners, and so resort to coercion and isolation when people act out too much.

Bodo Prison

Bodo Prison is a high and low security prison for men with a normal capacity of 56 places.

Photo: Barbro Andersen/NRK

Big differences

In 2020 and 2021, there were 630 decisions regarding the use of security cells, according to the Corrections Directorate’s figures.

The numbers for 2022 will not be available for some time.

Bodo has a maximum security prison for men. Ronse served a total of five years here, with only a year off elsewhere in the country.

Bodo Prison belonged to the area where the lowest security cells were used, the Nord District.


* The numbers show the number of inmates in security cells, not the number of prisoners. This means that individuals can make several or many decisions about extrapolation over a period of time, thus greatly influencing statistics.

* The five areas of the Correctional Service vary greatly in size. For example, the eastern region is much larger than the other four.

Security cell in Bodo Prison

Every year prisoners across the country are placed in security cells. Many of them suffer from mental illnesses and pose a great danger to themselves.

Photo: Dina Tegnander/NRK

– Here they are trying to find alternative solutions. Like getting more time to ventilate, or getting some energy at the gym. The staff seem committed to helping us, Rones says, and receiving support from fellow prisoner Sindre Kristoffer Trones.

– The staff should be highly commended for sharing so much with each individual guest, says Tronce, who takes such good care of himself.

– It’s an investment

Monica Andersen works at Bodø Prison. She also leads the Norwegian Prison and Probation Association in Salten. She makes it clear that they do what they can to stay ahead of events.

We take our time, especially when we see a need. It is an investment for us.

Monica Andersen in Bodø Prison

Monica Andersen at Bodø says they are good at prioritizing important tasks.

Photo: Dina Tegnander/NRK

At the same time, you realize that there is no simple answer as to why the region uses security cells less.

– There can be many factors that do this. It can be the type of inmate, as well as the way we work with them, she says and adds:

– Here at Bodø, we may have more room to find other solutions than in larger organisations, perhaps with heavier clientele than we currently have at Bodø.

Notified in the past Employment crisis in prison.

Then it was found, among other things, that there were insufficient resources to remove the inmates from their cells as often as desired.

– The presence of inmates in the cells is more due to the shortage of cadres. Is this the reason for the small number of security cells in Bodo?

It’s hard to pinpoint the cause, but it could be a contributing factor, Andersen says.

A prison cell in Bodo Prison

A prison cell in Bodo Prison.

Photo: Dina Tegnander/NRK

They must be avoided

The only person who is happy about the low use of security cells in the Northern District is Tove Gundersen, the general secretary of the Mental Health Council.

– The less security cells are used, the better for mental health, she says.

In general, security cells should be avoided as long as there are alternative options, Gundersen believes.

Tove Gundersen, Secretary General of the Mental Health Council

Tove Gundersen is the General Secretary of the Mental Health Council

Photo: Patrick Da Silva Saether

She believes that the most important thing that prisons can do is prevent, so that one would largely avoid using these cells specifically:

Physical activity and social support. Having someone to talk to can, as we know, prevent you from ending up in a situation where a security cell could be used.

– At the same time, it is important to point out that we do not know why cells are used, and it is not our role to say that there is no basis for their use, as you say.

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