Seven Years in Bastoy Prison (Micro Fiction)

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.



Author Note:

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):

“On first read, all of that probably sounds infuriating. Shouldn’t these men be punished? Why do they get access to all these comforts while others live in poverty?
But if the goal of prison is to change people, Bastoy seems to work. We should reduce the risk of reoffending, because if we don’t, what’s the point of punishment.”
“Think of prison like parenting and it starts to make sense, said Mark A.R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA and author of “When Brute Force Fails.”
“Every parent knows this. What if you tried to discipline your kid by saying, ‘If you don’t clean your room, there’s a 10% chance I’ll kick you out of the house and never see you again’?” he said, referencing the fact that many crimes in America go unpunished, but the justice system issues harsh sentences when offenders are caught. Grounding the child immediately, a softer sentence, would work better, even though the punishment is less severe, he said.
“We have a criminal justice system (in the United States) that, if it were a parent, we would say it’s abusive and neglectful.”

38 thoughts on “Seven Years in Bastoy Prison (Micro Fiction)

    1. Yes, far from ideal – and helping? whew – that is the real question…
      I have been wanting to write about prisons, jails, cops, etc, for a while now and I hope to do so more in upcoming posts.
      This was ignited for a while – but especially when I had that driveway moment – you know – where you sit listening int he car to a good show.
      The shows was discussing a documentary called “13th”
      13th is a 2016 American documentary by director Ava DuVernay. The film explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;” it is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which freed the slaves and prohibited slavery (unless as punishment for a crime).

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I will check back in when i watch it (just saw the full version is on YouTube) I only heard the interview and was moved (as noted).

          hope you have a nice day, D

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I think I’ve seen the same show as well. I think the documentary also includes prison in Germany too (I hope I am not confused with the other show). I completely like the concept.

    For your fiction, that is too bad for such the story if the person is not truly guilt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – well it sounds like the same show. I sued to really love it – and some episodes were better made than others.

      and sigh – you are right about the not guilty sad part. I wonder how many times this happens – we hear about people getting off with DNA proof – and well, very worthy question

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I was on a jury duty a couple of years back, I tried hard to give all sort of reasons to not be on it. I was the last person to get called but lucky enough that I was on as a back up which I still had to sit through the whole process but may not have to make any call if no juror dropped out (no one did in my case). The main reason was that I do not want to be part of making that decision. I argued with the lawyer be he gave a reason that I could not win.

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    1. thanks very much – and some of us do not need to go to jail to think of others – eh? (thinking of your coffee to the homeless guy….)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much and how cool that there is a prison like that. I know it would not work everywhere – but wonder if better rehab programs could be designed – very much needed

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post, both the story and the information. I hadn’t heard of this prison, but it seems to have worked for this person. It’s a fine line between punishment and rehabilitation. Well done.

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  3. I suppose almost any prison is difficult apart from Bastoy, but as was mentioned above, it tends to be relative. U.S. Prisons are bad, but its my understanding that prisons in many other nations, including Mexico, Egypt, Iran, and North Korea can be much, much worse. Your fictional character was fortunate.

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    1. Thanks James, yes – I have heard about how bad some prisons can be – and we used to watch a show called “Locked Up Abroad” – it sometimes highlighted the inside scoop of various jails….

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    1. well thanks for reading…
      and I think I should have started with a note about Bastoy prison being holistic – I might add that in real quick

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting story and news item about the Bastoy prison. My daily help, son is in prison for the last two years (apparently innocent and framed – but i am not so sure) and she is constantly worried and upset about him. But when I asked her the other day, she revealed that he had completed his class 10 and was on to the next level. moreover they had also taught him handicrafts and that food and other things were aplenty. That he was much more mature and responsible now and except for loss of freedom, he actually didnt want for anything. It felt very good to know and your story reminded me of that conversation 🙂

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    1. Oh wow – that fits right in here!

      that is a powerful story – although he will still likely have some things to work through in years to come… and did you know that yesterday (lees than 24 hours ago)

      here in the States a man got a million dollars for his wrong conviction:

      Man wrongly convicted and jailed for 31 years awarded $1m compensation:

      Lawrence McKinney, 61, was imprisoned in 1978 for rape and burglary before he was freed in 2009. He was formally exonerated in December.

      The Tennessee Board of Claims voted unanimously to award the maximum amount of compensation to Mr McKinney, having provided him with just $75 (£53) on his release.

      So sad!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wrong conviction is just terrible and yet it happens all the time. I wonder if money can compensate but then again at least it is better than the insult to injury of 75$

        Liked by 1 person

        1. thanks for reading DawD
          and in my opinion – money can never compensate – but at least they try to use money to assuage the wrongs….

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