COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway is in talks with the Netherlands to rent prison space and export some prisoners while carrying out urgent maintenance work and to ease overcrowding, an official said Tuesday.
Justice Ministry spokesman Vidar Brein-Karlsen said several practical issues must be dealt with before Norway can rent the Dutch cells, including whether Dutch wardens can guard the prisoners.
Another issue to be settled is how often detainees may be visited by family and friends living back in Norway.
"At first, this is a lesser problem to us. Norway is a long country and we sometimes have people convicted in southern Norway being incarcerated in northern Norway," Brein-Karlsen said. "The distance from Oslo to the Netherlands is shorter."
Norway currently has 1,300 people waiting to serve prison time. Brein-Karlsen added it had not been decided yet what kind of prisoner should be jailed abroad but dangerous inmates — like Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 people in 2011 — will remain in Norway.
Such a deal would be part of a broader plan to renovate Norwegian prisons, estimated to cost up to 4.4 billion kroner ($698 million). A vote in Parliament is needed and expected later this year. No date has been set yet.
The Netherlands for years has been renting prison cells to neighboring Belgium, Brein-Karlsen said.