Prison Life In Greenland
WSJ: Doing Hard Time In Greenland Isn't Really That Hard
In the midst of a howling Arctic storm last month, Merak Jakob Lindenhann lumbered into a store and bought a DVD called "Go Home" by the band U2. Then the 51-year-old Inuit walked back to his home -- the local prison.
Mr. Lindenhann is serving a life sentence for three rapes. But like other hard-core inmates at the only jail in this island's tiny capital, he enjoys some extraordinary privileges, including unaccompanied shopping trips. Though some residents know of his crimes, they look the other way. "He's sweet," said the store owner, as she waved goodbye to him.
The jail has no fences and no bars, but plenty of television sets, DVD players and computers. Inmates hold regular jobs around town, earning about $2,800 a month, a living wage in this country of 53,000 people. In the summer they're given shotguns and allowed to hunt reindeer and seals. The only requirement for such hunting trips: They must be accompanied by armed guards, says Soeren Soedergaard Hansen, chief judge of Greenland. "And they cannot be drunk."
That's not all.
A day in jail starts with a breakfast buffet of five imported cheeses, various breads, marmalade and honey. To relieve the wintry gloom, the table is lit by a holly-festooned candle. Lunch is a hot meal and dinner consists of cold meats. The walk-in freezer is stuffed with slabs of reindeer meat, remnants of summer hunting trips.
Each convict gets a personal coffee machine, compliments of the jail. The unisex bathrooms are spotless. For those disinclined to venture out into the Arctic cold, a local shop owner drops by once a week to sell cigarettes and other supplies.
There's little incentive to escape. "Where can they run?" says Joergen Nord, the Danish head of Greenland's prison system. "It's cold outside."