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Take A Look At One Of The Most Humane Prisons In The World

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Prison is a punishment for those who break the law, but there seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding the treatment of inmates — specifically finding a balance between the harsh reality of incarceration and respecting the general idea of humanity. And then there’s how the system goes about rehabilitation.

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The U.S. remains a world leader in the number of jailed citizens, and there has been an endless amount of talk regarding the wrongful doings that occur at the hands of the system. In 2004, Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group in Washington, reported that over the last quarter of a century, more than 40 state prison systems have been under some form of court order, whether it be for brutality, overcrowding, poor food, or lack of medical care.

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But what happens in U.S. prison systems is a powerful statement about the kind of society we are. “You have to ask yourself: If the basic story that we tell ourselves is that it’s all about laws and sending people to prison because they violated laws and harmed other people, how can we possibly justify sending them to a place where that is happening to them?” asks Jonathan Simon, a criminal justice expert at the University of California-Berkeley.

And when you look at other prison systems, the circumstances in the U.S. seem even more grave.

In Norway, less than 4,000 of the country’s 5 million people were behind bars as of August 2014. And when criminals leave prison, they stay out. The country has the lowest recidivism rates in the world at 20%. The majority of crimes reported to police in Norway are theft-related, with violent crimes typically linked to drug trafficking and gang problems. To reiterate, in the U.S., 76.6% of prisoners are re-arrested within five years.

The country takes advantage of a concept called “restorative justice,” which aims to repair the harm caused by crime rather than punish people—something the U.S. should likely consider.

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Below is a picture of kitchen facilities at Halden Prison, Norway

kitchen

Recently, Baz Dreisinger shared an excerpt from Incarceration Nations: A Journey to Justice in Prisons Around the World with the Huffington Post, painting a much clearer picture of exactly what prison is like in Norway. She found herself interacting with two deckhands on the ferry to Bastoy Island.

“We are criminals,” one of the men told her. “Really, we are. Criminals. Are you afraid?”

She said no, and was then offered a handshake and an introduction.

“I am Wiggo,” he told her. He was serving a 21-year sentence, which is the maximum in Norway, though he’ll likely be out next year.

“We work the 6-to-noon shift,” Cato, the other deckhand and prisoner, said. “Then we go back to the prison and relax or exercise. Come, you want to meet the captain? He is not a prisoner. The only one who isn’t, on this boat.”

When many picture prisoners serving time in the U.S., they certainly don’t envision them working on a boat. But Norway is different.

“As the boat set sail, I spied Bastoy, a cluster of gangly pine trees in a gray sea stretching toward a gray sky. Inside the boat’s small seating area, Cato sat down next to me and turned on the TV, flipping to the History Channel,” Dreisinger wrote. Wiggo says that people think Bastoy is a summer camp, but, being a prisoner, he knows all too well the difference. 

“Wiggo was right; it did look like summer camp. Mottled leaves fell on cyclers ― yes, cycling prisoners ― and a horse-and-carriage cantered by. Gingerbread houses dotted the landscape; they were dull yellow, with green trim and red roofs. I spied sheep and cows but no fence or barbed wire,” Dreisinger noted.

Bastoy is an open prison, which means prisoners can sometimes keep their jobs on the outside while serving time. Of Norway’s prisons, 30% are open, and Bastoy is considered one of the best.

“More prisons should be open ― almost all should be. We take as many as we can here, but there isn’t room for everyone,” explained Bastoy’s “governor,” Tom. The island houses about 115 men overseen by more than 70 staff members.

“There’s a perception that, ‘Oh, this is the lightweight prison; you just take the nice guys for the summer-camp prison.’ But in fact, no. Our guys are into, pardon my French, some heavy shit. Drugs and violence. And the truth is, some have been problematic in other prisons but then they come here, and we find them easy. We say, ‘Is that the same guy you called difficult?’ It’s really very simple: Treat people like dirt, and they will be dirt. Treat them like human beings, and they will act like human beings,” Tom explained.

Tom told Dreisinger that their system is simply humane. And it shows in the way Dreisinger goes on to explain Bastoy’s surroundings:

“We wandered through the forest, past grazing horses, a breeding area for birds, a greenhouse and a barbecue pit where men can cook lunch. Prisoners live in shared houses that resemble log cabins. The delicious smell of burning firewood wafted through the air, and South Africa’s Robben Island sprang to mind. Bastoy is the opposite of its doppelgänger: not a dark, evil twin but the humane edition of that prison-island hellhole.”

Tom even took her to the supermarket, which sells premium cacao chocolate and aloe-vera juice. She also comes to find out that there are phone booths for unlimited use, though Tom wanted cell phones and internet.

BASTOY ISLAND, HORTEN, NORWAY - APRIL 11:  Edven, 38-years-old sentenced to three years and two months for crime related to narcotics is seen in his kitchen as he gets back to his wooden cottage after grocery shooping in Bastoy Prison on April 11, 2011 in Bastoy Island, Horten,  Norway. Bastoy Prison is a minimum security prison located on Bastoy Island, Norway, about 75 kilometers (46 mi) south of Oslo. The facility is located on a 2.6 square kilometer (1 sq mi) island and hosts 115 inmates. Arne Kvernvik Nilsen, governor of the prison, leads a staff of about 70 prison employees. Of this staff, only five employees remain on the island overnight.  Once a prison colony for young boys, the facility now is trying to become "the first eco-human prison in the world." Inmates are housed in wooden cottages and work the prison farm. During their free time, inmates have access to horseback riding, fishing, tennis, and cross-country skiing. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Reportage by Getty Images)

BASTOY ISLAND, HORTEN, NORWAY – APRIL 11: Edven, 38-years-old sentenced to three years and two months for crime related to narcotics is seen in his kitchen as he gets back to his wooden cottage after grocery shooping in Bastoy Prison on April 11, 2011 in Bastoy Island, Horten, Norway.  (image source)

As for the stigma regarding reentry into society, Tom explained that there really isn’t one. “In Norway, when you’re released, you’re released. One guy I know spent 18 years in prison and is now living in my neighborhood. A normal old guy. No one cares. You find this a lot. I have many friends who’ve been to prison. Norwegians are very forgiving people.

“I tell people, we’re releasing neighbours every year. Do you want to release them as ticking time bombs? Is that who you want living next to you?”

Another one from Halden prison.

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It’s an interesting topic, to see the effectiveness of treating prisoners humanely. The prisons in Norway are small, most housing less than 100 people. They’re spread all over the country, with prisoners kept close to their families and communities. The system is designed to resemble life on the outside, so prisoners never feel like re-entering society is hard. A prisoner gets health care, education and other social services on the inside. And sentences are short, averaging an estimated eight months. In the U.S., the average sentence was 4.5 years in 2012.

Norway’s system may seem luxurious compared to others, but it seems to work. The crime rates are low, the recidivism rate is low. It’s a powerful exposé that demonstrates providing humanity makes for humanity.

Related CE Article: 7 Household names making a killing off of the prison industrial complex. 

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Vancouver Council Votes Against Mandatory Mask Mandate: They’re Not Required

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Vancouver, Canada will not have a required mask policy in civic facilities, and instead will simply recommend that people wear them.

  • Reflect On:

    Should governments recommend what they feel we should do and present the science instead of forcing certain measures on the population that many people and health professionals clearly disagree with?

What Happened: The city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada will not mandate masks inside city buildings and will “strongly encourage” people to wear them instead. This is a bold move as many cities across the globe have mandatory mask measures in place.

The proposal by Counc. Sarah Kirby-Yung, which would have required masks inside city buildings, was opposed by more than a dozen speakers who pleaded with the city council to vote against it.

“Please consider our forefathers fought for our freedom, and if we release that choice, it’s the first step towards a dictatorship,” said one speaker according to City News. “Masks are used as weapons and they have certainly been used as weapons against me and others to silence and marginalize us and it’s not fair.”

According to Coun. Christine Boyle, public health experts encourage wearing masks, but a mandatory policy is not needed.

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Positive Association Found Amongst COVID Deaths & Flu Shot Rates Worldwide In Elderly

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A recently published paper has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

  • Reflect On:

    Why does vaccine hesitancy continue to grow worldwide? What's going on? What information/factors are contributing to this hesitancy?

What Happened: A recently published study in PeerJ  by Christian Wehenkel, a Professor at Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango in Mexico, has found a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and influenza vaccination rates in elderly people worldwide.

According to the study, “The results showed a positive association between COVID-19 deaths and IVR (influenza vaccination rate) of people ≥65 years-old. There is a significant increase in COVID-19 deaths from eastern to western regions in the world. Further exploration is needed to explain these findings, and additional work on this line of research may lead to prevention of deaths associated with COVID-19.”

To determine this association, data sets from 39 countries with more than half a million people were analyzed.

The study was published on October 1st, and two weeks later a note from the publisher appeared atop the paper emphasizing that correlation does not equal causation, and that this paper “should not be taken to suggest that receiving the influenza vaccination results in an increased risk of death for an individual with COVID-19 as there may be confounding factors at play.”

The paper provides evidence from others which have recently been published that ponder if the flu shot could increase ones chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

For example, this study published in April of 2020, reported a negative correlation between influenza vaccination rates (IVRs) and COVID-19 related mortality and morbidity. Marín-Hernández, Schwartz & Nixon (2020) also showed epidemiological evidence of an association between higher influenza vaccine uptake by elderly people and lower percentage of COVID-19 deaths in Italy, which directly contradicts the author’s own findings and suggests that the flu shot may help prevent COVID-19 related deaths.

He goes on to mention another study:

In a study analyzing 92,664 clinically and molecularly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil, Fink et al. (2020) reported that patients who received a recent flu vaccine experienced on average 17% lower odds of death. Moreover, Pawlowski et al. (2020) analyzed the immunization records of 137,037 individuals who tested positive in a SARS-CoV-2 PCR. They found that polio, Hemophilus influenzae type-B, measles-mumps-rubella, varicella, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13), geriatric flu, and hepatitis A/hepatitis B (HepA-HepB) vaccines, which had been administered in the past 1, 2, and 5 years, were associated with decreased SARS-CoV-2 infection rates.

So, its important to mention that correlations between the flu vaccine have also found that it may decrease ones chance of deaths from COVID-19.

But are there studies that have shown an increased chance of death or contracting other respiratory viruses as a result of getting the flu shot? Yes.

That’s also discussed in the paper. For example, he mentions a paper published in 2018:

In a study with 6,120 subjects, Wolff (2020) reported that influenza vaccination was significantly associated with a higher risk of some other respiratory diseases, due to virus interference. In a specific examination of non-influenza viruses, the odds of coronavirus infection (but not the COVID-19 virus) in vaccinated individuals were significantly higher, when compared to unvaccinated individuals (odds ratio = 1.36).

The study above found the flu shot to increase the risk of other coronaviruses among those who had been vaccinated for influenza by 36 percent. The study was conducted prior to COVID-19, so it’s not included and only applies to pre-existing coronaviruses. The study also found an even higher chance of contracting human metapneumovirus amongst those who had received the flu shot.

Below are some more studies regarding the flu shot and viral infections that hint to the same idea.

  • 2018 CDC study (Rikin et al 2018) found that flu shots increase the risk of non-flu acute respiratory illnesses (ARIs), including coronavirus, in children.
  • A 2011 Australian study (Kelly et al 2011) found that flu shots doubled the risk for non-flu viral lung infections.
  • 2012 Hong Kong study (Cowling et al 2012) found that flu shots increase the risk for non-flu respiratory infections by 4.4 times.
  • 2017 study (Mawson et al 2017) found vaccinated children were 5.9 times more likely to suffer pneumonia than their unvaccinated peers.

Why This Is Important: We live in an age where vaccinations are heavily marketed. We’ve seen this with the flu shot time and time again and we are also living in an age where a push for more mandated vaccines seems to be growing.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal) and also an assistant professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

This is a touchy subject that dives into medical ethics and the connections that big pharmaceutical companies have with our federal health regulatory agencies and health associations. Vaccines are a multi billion dollar industry.

At a recent World Health Organization conference on vaccine safety, it was expressed that vaccine hesitancy is growing at quite a fast pace, especially among doctors who are now becoming hesitant to recommend certain vaccines on the schedule. You can read more about that and find links to the conference here.

We have to ask ourselves, why is this happening? Is it because people and professionals are becoming aware of certain information that warrants the freedom of choice? Should freedom of choice with regards to what we put in our body always remain? Are we really protecting the “herd” by taking these actions?

In a 2014 analysis in the Oregon Law Review by New York University (NYU) legal scholars Mary Holland and Chase E. Zachary (who also has a Princeton-conferred doctorate in chemistry), the authors show that 60 years of compulsory vaccine policies “have not attained herd immunity for any childhood disease.” It is time, they suggest, to cast aside coercion in favor of voluntary choice.

When it comes to the flu shot, I put more information and science as to why so many people seem to refuse it, in this article if interested.

The University of California is currently being sued for mandating the flu shot for all staff, faculty and students. A judge has prevented them from doing so as a result until a decision has been made. You can read more about that here.

In South Korea, 48 people have now died after receiving the flu shot this season causing a lot of controversy. You can read more about that here.

The Takeaway: There are many concerns with vaccines, and vaccine injury is one of them. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Should these statistics alone warrant the freedom of choice? Should the government have the ability to force us into measures, or would it simply be better for them to present the science, make recommendations and urge people to follow them? When the citizenry is forced and coerced into certain actions, sometimes under the guise of good-will, there always seems to be a tremendous amount of uproar and people who disagree. Why are these people silenced? Why are they censored? Why are they ridiculed? Why don’t independent health organizations receive the same voice and reach that government and state “owned” or organizations do? What’s going on here? Do we really live in a free, open and transparent world or are we simply subjected to massive amounts of perception manipulation?

When it come to the flu shot there is plenty of information on both sides of the coin that point to its effectiveness, and on the other hand there is information that points to the complete opposite. When something is not 100 percent clear, freedom of choice in all places should always remain, in my opinion.

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Some South Korean Doctors & Politicians Call To Stop Flu Shots After 48 People Die

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The number of South Koreans who have died after getting flu shots has risen to 48, but health authorities in South Korea have found no link between the vaccine and the deaths.

  • Reflect On:

    Is the flu shot as safe as it's marketed to be?

What Happened: It’s that time of year and flu shot programs are rolling out across the globe. The number of South Koreans who have died after getting the flu shot has now risen to 48 and some South Korean doctors and politicians have called to stop flu shots as a result, according to Reuters. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has decided not to stop the program, and that flu vaccines would continue to be given and will reduce the chance of having simultaneous epidemics in the era of COVID-19.

Health authorities in South Korea have explained that they’ve found no direct link between these deaths and the shots. KDCA Director Jeong Eun-kyung said, “After reviewing death cases so far, it is not the time to suspend a flu vaccination programme since vaccination is very crucial this year, considering…the COVID-19 outbreaks.”

According to Reuters, “Some initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other disorders not caused by the vaccination.”

The South Korean government is hopeful to vaccinate approximately 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.

Concerns Some People Have With The Flu Shot: One concern many people seem to have is the worry of a severe adverse reaction.

Dr. Alvin Moss, MD and professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine emphasizes in this video:

The flu vaccine happens to be the vaccine that causes the most injury in this country. The vaccine injury compensation program, 40 percent of all vaccinations in this country are flu shots, but 60 percent of all the compensations are for the flu vaccine. So a disproportionate number of  vaccine related injuries are the flu shot.

Moss is one of many who believe that the flu vaccine is not as effective as it’s been marketed to be. For example,  A study recently published in Global Advances In Health & Medicine titled “Ascorbate as Prophylaxis and Therapy for COVID-19—Update From Shanghai and U.S. Medical Institutions outlines the following:

Recently outlined A recent consensus statement from a group of renowned infectious disease clinicians observed that vaccine programs have proven ill-suited to the fast-changing viruses underlying these illnesses, with efficacy ranging from 19% to 54% in the past few years.

Dr. Peter Doshi is an associate editor at The BMJ (British Medical Journal)  published a paper in The BMJ titled “Influenza: Marketing Vaccines By Marketing Disease.”  In it,  he points out that the CDC pledges “to base all public health decisions on the highest quality of scientific data, openly and objectively derived,” and how this isn’t the case when it comes to the flu vaccine and its marketing. He stresses that “the vaccine may be less beneficial and less safe than has been claimed, and that “the threat of influenza seems to be overstated.”

These are just a few examples out of many claiming that the flu shot has not really been effective, opposing others that claim it is.  Mercury that’s still present in some flu shots also seems to be a concern.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid more than $4 billion to families of vaccine injured children. A 2010 HHS pilot study by the Federal Agency for Health Care Research (AHCR) found that 1 in every 39 vaccines causes injury, a shocking comparison to the claims from the CDC of 1 in every million.

Professor Heidi Larson, a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project stated at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference that more doctors are starting to be hesitant when it comes to recommending vaccines.

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers, we have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen… still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider…

This is no secret, and actions against mandates are being taken. The University of California was recently sued for making the flu shot mandatory. That trial will begin soon, and you can read more about it here, and find information regarding the claim that the flu shot can help in the times of COVID-19.

The Takeaway: We are living in an age of extreme censorship of information, no matter how credible or how much evidence is provided, information that goes against the grain always seems to receive a harsh backlash from mainstream media as well as social media outlets. Why is there a digital fact checker patrolling the internet? Should people not have the right to examine information openly and freely and determine for themselves what is and what isn’t?

As far as vaccines are concerned, despite the fact that there are many safety issues the scientific community  is bringing up, a push for vaccine mandates continues and the idea that we are protecting other people is usually the narrative that’s pushed hard. Vaccine skepticism is growing at a fast pace among people of all professions, and people aren’t stupid. There’s a reason why more and more people are starting to question what we’ve been told for years, and those reasons should be acknowledged and openly discussed amongst people on both sides of the coin.

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