prison door

Norwegian inmate surfs out of prison

A convicted sex offender managed to escape from an island prison in Norway on a surf board, paddling to the mainland with the help of a plastic shovel.

The low-security prison at Bastoy is renowned for allowing prisoners watch films, use local beaches and go cycling, while organic farming is also a feature. There are no security fences, and it is viewed by many as the symbol of the country’s humane incarceration policies.

The prisoner, said to be in his mid-20s, went missing overnight. The next morning a surf board and shovel that were property of the prison were found on the mainland around three kilometres away. The man is not considered a danger to the general public.

Prison chief Tom Eberhardt admitted that the escape sounded spectacular, but noted that if he hadn’t used a surfboard, he could have used something else. He added that it was not difficult to find something that floats on the island.

The prison houses a number of serial killers, drug traffickers and rapists, with chores such as cooking and farm work designed to prepare them from eventually returning to society. There are 115 inmates, many of whom started their sentences in high-security jails before having applications to transfer to Bastoy accepted. Authorities use a screening procedure to decide the prisoners best suited for the move.

Escapes are rare, but when they do happen and the escapee is eventually caught, there is no chance of a return, according to Eberhardt.