Prison in Greenland? It's Casual.

The small island of Greenland is home to one of the most lax prison systems in the world, where most convicts are free to leave during the day and are only locked up overnight.

Radio Netherlands said Greenland’s convicts spend the first tenth of their sentence in lock-down, but if their conduct is good enough, they can progress to the open prison system, in which prison doors are locked only from 9:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

Peter Kristensen, director of Greenland’s prison system, told RN the open-prison system emphasizes prisoner rehabilitation rather than punishment, adding that “we only have 56,000 people in Greenland, and we can’t afford to lose any of them.”

Prisoners are allowed to work regular jobs, study, visit family and friends, and enjoy amenities like movie and music facilities inside the detention centers.

Prisoners are even allowed to carry guns on weekend hunting trips — the only time they are accompanied by armed prison guards.

The more serious offenders do not qualify for this regime, and instead have been sent to a conventional prison in Denmark.

However, the system is currently being reformed, and a new prison with both open and closed elements is being constructed on Greenland so that all convicts will have access to familial visits.

–Julia Hengst/


“Greenland’s open prison system”
Radio Netherlands Worldwide, November 13, 2008

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