Old Jail: New Inmates

The Reykjavík Penalty House currently Iceland’s oldest still operative jail/prison is being shut down for good since it opened in 1874. The Penalty House is not the oldest correctional facility in Iceland, that would be the Stjórnarráð built in 1790 (a direct translation would be Government-Council) which is now the office of the Prime Minister. The Penalty House will be shut down this summer and the inmates moved to a modern facility on the outskirts of the city. The new facilities are built with the Scandinavian rehabilitation mindset and is comparable to facilities in Norway and Sweden. 

The inmates of the Penalty House will no doubt be happy with their new arrangements since the old building has been neglected over the past few decades. Inmates complained about small cells and cold temperatures. Not to mention the noise coming from the busy downtown area, especially the night life during the weekends for which the inmates were supplied with hearing protectors.

The building itself is protected by law and will remain a government property. The local city council is optimistic about the buildings future as a cultural center. The prison yard for example would be excellent for art installations and projects. This would be a welcome change to Reykjavík’s deteriorating art-scene, hopefully these new artistic inmates will work to restore the scene. For now however the building will be undergoing extensive repair work after the last inmate is transferred.  


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