Capital Punishment In Norway: Do Norway Have The Death Sentence? Explained!

Some countries and states have a capital punishment where criminals can be sentenced to the death sentence if they are found guilty of crimes, but what’s the deal with capital punishment in Norway?

Norway does not have a death sentence or capital punishment, and has not had it since it was abolished in 1979. Capital punishment is now prohibited in the Norwegian constitution.

This means that no matter what you do, you will not get capital punishment by the Norwegian judiciary system. All convicts are instead sent to regular prison sentence as a worst case scenario.

The history of capital punishment in Norway

Norway used to have capital punishment, and this practice has been in place in the viking era, or possibly earlier. However, it was also somewhat common in modern Norway, especially in the 16th and 17th century.

During these centuries, Norway used the death sentence as punishment for criminals convicted of murder and treason. In addition, anyone sentenced to be a witch or to be practicing witchcraft were given the death sentence.

Witches were given the death sentence by burning. Capital punishment for regular crimes was used until 1905 when it was reduced to be used in wartime only.

The last non-wartime death sentence in Norway was in 1876.

Capital punishment during wartime

Capital punishment in wartime in Norway kept going for a long time, and was used to punish people convicted of treason following the 2nd world war.

After the convicted traitors from WWII were given the death sentence, no one has been given the death sentence.

The Norwegian government removed the laws to allow capital punishments in 1979. At this point it would not be legal to use the death sentence any longer.

Capital punishment was further removed in 2014 when the Norwegian constitution was updated to include a prohibition on any form of capital punishment both in peace and war time.

Maximum prison sentence in Norway

Criminals who would traditionally get the death sentence in other countries are instead given long prison sentences in Norway.

Many people are under the impression that the max prison sentence in Norway is 21 years, but it’s in reality 30 years for crimes such as terrorism, crimes against humanity, genocide and other very serious crimes.

However, “regular” crimes have a max sentence of 21 years of prison time in Norway.

Norwegian prisons are known for their policy and intent to rehabilitate the inmates, instead of just punishing them. This had lead to many people believing that Norwegian prisons are like luxury hotels, but if you’re interested in learning more about what Norwegian prisons are like, click here.

Agder Prison. Photo by Kriminalomsorgen - The Norwegian Correctional Service.
Agder Prison. Photo by Kriminalomsorgen – The Norwegian Correctional Service.

But you can theoretically stay in prison forever

It is possible to get what is called a “forvaringsdom“, which means that you will be kept in prison until a team of psychologist and other experts determine that you are rehabilitated and ready to be brought back into society.

As long as the inmate is determined to not be rehabilitated, the prison sentence will be extended by a few years each time, before giving the chance to plead the case for a new team of experts.

There are cases where people are stuck on this forvaringsdom indefinitely, with no real chance of getting out of prison due to their reluctance to conform to a new crime-free life.

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