“The images of prison are familiar to all of us—cold, pale concrete walls, with limited light filtering through narrow, bar-protected windows; prisoners in solid jumpsuits shuffling through the corridors under the watchful eye of ever-present guards; small, unadorned cells where men and women live out long prison terms in solitude and despair.
“But not all prisons fit into this stereotype.
“A recent 60 Minutes exposé examines the current prison system in Germany, and finds the correctional facilities there bear little resemblance to their American counterparts. In the prisons visited, reporters were surprised to see prisoners with keys to their cells, video game consoles, private bathrooms—many of the comforts that might be expected in a typical college dormitory. Residents are encouraged to take courses to learn how to paint, play soccer, or crochet. (“We make hats, oven mitts—whatever you need,” a prisoner explains.) One featured prisoner, serving a life sentence for murder, is able to leave the prison every day on his own reconnaissance for work, and gets to spend weekends away from the facility with his family. He is on track to be paroled after 20 years of incarceration, which is the case for roughly 75 percent of those with life sentences.”