What is the ultimate penalty in Norwegian law? Who is sentenced to serve the ultimate penalty in Norway? What is it like to serve the ultimate penalty in Norway? The aim of ULTPEN is to address these questions to provide the first comprehensive assessment of the use and impact of indefinite preventive detention (or forvaring) the ultimate penalty in Norway.
To address the first question, the researchers will carry out a detailed study of legal and policy documents about the use of forvaring in Norway. Court judgments, reports from government agencies, scholarly publications and newspaper articles on this type of punishment will be analysed to provide a critical overview of how the forvaring system has developed, and what it means in practice.
To address the second question, a national database of all forvaring prisoners will be constructed. There will be information on the characteristics of individuals sentenced to forvaring since it started in 2002. Data will also be collected on individuals who have been reconvicted after their release into the community.
To address the final question, interviews will be conducted with forvaring prisoners. These will provide a unique perspective on the experiences of individuals subject to forvaring and the impact of this type of penalty. Participants will be invited to 'tell their own story' and reflect on conditions of confinement, strategies for coping, daily routines, relationships inside and outside of prison and future expectations.
ULTPEN will be the first national study on the implementation and impact of the ultimate penalty in Norway. The findings will be compared against international trends on life imprisonment to assess the extent to which forvaring is an exceptional response to individuals who commit serious crimes. In sum, ULTPEN will 'open the black box' on the realities of serving indefinite detention and provide a step-change in knowledge about the development, use and impact of the ultimate penalty in Norway.
Indefinite preventive detention – or forvaring – is the ultimate penalty in Norwegian law. Introduced in 2002, the sanction is both punitive – it provides punishment (a term of imprisonment) for the offence, and preventive – it keeps the offender away from society as long as they are deemed to be a risk to the public. The use of forvaring has increased over recent years, and the forvaring prison population has grown from 21 prisoners in 2002 to 132 in January 2020. Furthermore, international interest in the use of forvaring as the ultimate sanction in Norway has escalated since the sentencing in 2012 of the mass murderer Anders Breivik. Yet there has been no comprehensive study on the implementation and impact of this type of ultimate penalty. The ULTPEN project aims to address this gap and break new theoretical and empirical ground. It will be the first national study to assess the implementation and impact of forvaring on the entire population subject to the penalty, using a multi-method and inter-disciplinary approach. It will examine the historical rise and policy development of preventive detention in Norway. It will provide the first national overview of the characteristics of all individuals who have been subject to forvaring, and follow up trends over time such as the reconviction rates of individuals who have been released. Of major import, it will examine the lived reality of this type of sanction by carrying out in-depth interviews with forvaring prisoners, seeking to understand as far as possible first-hand stories and experiences of individuals who have been sentenced to serve indefinite preventive detention. Key findings from the study will be assessed against international trends and practice on long-term and life imprisonment. ULTPEN will therefore make a new and major contribution to our theoretical knowledge and empirical understanding about the evolution, practice and impact of the ultimate penalty in Norway.