Anders Breivik Sentenced to 21 Years

Yesterday, Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik was convicted of killing 77 people in the bombing and shooting attacks which occurred in Norway last year. Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison – fewer than four months per victim. According to his lawyers, “Breivik will live in a prison outside Olso in a three-cell suite of rooms equipped with exercise equipment, a television and a laptop, albeit one without Internet access. If he is not considered a threat after serving his prison sentence, the maximum available under Norwegian law, he will be eligible for release in 2033.” What is interesting about this sentence is that it speaks to Norway’s general approach to criminal justice. “Like the rest of Europe – and in contrast with much of the United States, whose criminal justice system considered by many Europeans to be cruelly punitive – Norway no longer has the death penalty and considers prison more a means of rehabilitation than retribution.” Family members of the victims seemed to be pleased with Breivik’s sentence. Even survivors of the shootings agreed that if after 21 years Breivik is found to not be dangerous anymore than he should be released. What do you think of Europe’s general approach to criminal justice? Should a criminal justice system focus on rehabilitation and not retribution? Or, should there be some combination of both?

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