Hello readers, here is the prompt for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction. Go here if you want to join in or read some more takes on this photo prompt. I came back to start off with a note that my fiction here refers to a prison called Bastoy, which is supposed to be the world’s nicest prison and it is on an island in southern Norway.
Seven Years in Bastoy Prison (fiction word count: 200)
I know everyone says they’re innocent, but I really am.
I bought three vintage Egyptian statues while traveling abroad and the airport security found drugs inside.
I almost bought three Egyptian “cat” statues, which are supposed to symbolize joy and fun, but those skillfully crafted Pharaohs whispered of the Egyptian culture’s golden age. That fateful choice haunts me.
Sentenced to seven years on Bastoy Island.
I was trembling on the long ferry ride over here. Six years later I have found a healing reprieve. If the goal of prison is to change people, Bastoy has worked for me. I never smuggled drugs, but I was guilty of living a shallow, greedy existence.
I’m changed. I’ve read more books than I can count, including Les Misérables seven times.
I built three sheds. I garden. I sing.
As nice as it’s been, loss of freedom hurts deep in the soul.
I have 363 days left and when free, I will never buy souvenirs while traveling. I also will not just accumulate for myself – I’ll be more of a giving man. Oh, and I’m going to buy three kittens and then try to live with as much joy and fun as possible.
Today’s short fiction piece was inspired by a CNN article about the nicest prison on the world: Bastoy Prison on an island in southern Norway.
The inmates have access to beaches, horses and even sauna time. Everyone also has a job. They still have their freedom taken away and it is still imprisonment. However, the approach here is to rebuild human beings and not punitively punish in ways that continues to tear down already broken people.
And isn’t the goal of incarceration to punish and lead to positive behavior change? Yes, it is. And too often the person in a harsh prison gets lost in an oppressive punitive system – especially like those in the United States.
Well actually many would say the US is a cake walk compared to Egyptian prisons. Like did you hear about Englishwomen Laura Plummer, who was busted carrying almost 300 tablets of Tramadol? This drug is a Class “C” prescription in the UK but has been banned in Egypt because it’s used as a heroin substitute )she said she did not know it was illegal there and was bringing in extras for her boyfriend’s painful back). Plummer claims she was innocent and I guess the prisons in Egypt are horrid: overcrowded, dirty and quite harsh. I almost had this fiction story take place in an Egypt prison – because the Egyptian artifacts brought me that way – But then I wanted my inmate to feel a sense of holistic rehabilitation and so I took him to Bastoy in Norway. 🙂
Here is a snippet from Sutter’s (2012) CNN Bastoy Prison article (here):