Maximum Prison Sentence in Norway Explained

Norway is known to have lenient prison sentences, with prisons that focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment. But what are the actual maximum prison sentences in Norway?

The maximum prison sentence for normal crimes in Norway is 21 years, but war crimes and terror crimes can give sentences up to 30 years. Criminals can also be sentenced to indefinite custody in addition to their prison sentence.

This means that prisoners can potentially be kept in prison for their entire lives under indefinite custody (called forvaring in Norwegian). Anyone sentenced to forvaring will need to convince a board that they are rehabilitated before they are allowed out of prison.

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

Most smaller crimes have very short prison sentences

While the most serious cases can grant as much as 30 years in prison, most crimes give a much shorter prison time. Even serious crimes such as murder can net under 10 years of prison time in many cases, so it’s not normal for prisoners to get the 21 year sentence.

As a matter of fact, less than 50 people have gotten the 21 or 30 year prison sentence in Norway!

Indefinite custody in Norway explained

As mentioned above, prisoners can be sentenced to an indefinite custody, known as forvaring. This is reserved for very serious crimes where the criminal express little or no remorse, and where the judge feels like there is a high chance that the criminal will not be rehabilitated.

This allows them to add forvaring to the sentence, where a board of people have to decide if the criminal does in fact seem rehabilitated or not.

If they are deemed unsafe even after having completed their sentence, they are given an additional 1 or 2 years in prison until they can request a new board of people to judge if they are safe for society.

This forvaring opens up for life sentences where serious criminals might spend their entire lives in prison without ever being allowed outside ever again.

Hallways in Halden prison
Halden prison is often regarded as the worlds most humane prison. Photo by Justis- og politidepartementet / CC BY 2.0.

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