Life in Prison Suite Doesn't Agree With a Mass Killer

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Anders Behring Breivik would like butter, a new pen, more comfortable handcuffs and a view.

Mr. Breivik, the Norwegian extremist convicted of the coldly premeditated murders of 77 people in 2011, is serving a 21-year sentence in a maximum-security prison outside Oslo. He is not satisfied with the accommodations, though: his three-cell suite with a television and exercise equipment, lodgings commensurate with Norway's typically humane treatment of its convicts.

Addressing penal officials in a 27-page letter obtained by the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang and confirmed by his lawyer, Mr. Breivik bemoaned the "800" strip searches he has undergone, for instance. Not one of them has shown him to be holding an object "between the buttocks," he noted.

He would enjoy more social interaction, according to the letter, which says he is alone with his thoughts for "23 hours and 55 minutes" on a typical day and speaks only with his guards.

"Such treatment isn't human," said a lawyer for Mr. Breivik, Tord Jordet, according to Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Breivik is denied a computer or Internet access to prevent him from spreading his ideology of racial hatred, officials have said.

He expressed many other concerns in his letter, many of them prosaic. He must be supervised while shaving and brushing his teeth, he complained, and because of the "mental strain" this causes he is forced to limit those activities to once a week. Nor is he permitted to keep hydrating skin cream in his quarters, which are drab and without a view, he wrote. Switches for his lights and television are outside his suite of cells, obliging him to summon guards to turn them on and off.

Mr. Breivik dislikes handcuffs, too, because the steel edges cut into his wrists, and he dreads putting them on for each trip outside his cell, Verdens Gang reported. Without a thermos, his coffee frequently goes cold, according to news media reports.

Furthermore, he wrote, his phone calls and mail are unfairly censored. "His freedom of speech is being violated," Mr. Jordet said.

Only correspondence from "New Testament Christians and other people who do not like me" has reached him in recent months, Mr. Breivik wrote.

Letters aside, Mr. Breivik would like to pursue his literary ambitions while in prison, he said, but those aspirations are being thwarted by the stab-resistant safety pen he has been provided, "a nightmare of a tool" that causes his hand to cramp. The pen is "an almost indescribable manifestation of sadism," he wrote, though presumably it did not prevent him from composing his lengthy letter of complaint.

A prison spokeswoman said Mr. Breivik was given an electric typewriter on Friday. It was not given in response to Mr. Breivik's letter, the spokeswoman said, according to The Associated Press.

"I highly doubt that there are worse detention facilities in Norway," Mr. Breivik wrote.

Mr. Breivik's 21-year sentence is the country's maximum, and he is considered the most heinous offender in modern Scandinavian history.

Mr. Breivik confessed to setting off bombs in downtown Oslo in July 2011 before shooting dozens of people at a summer youth camp run by the Labor Party. He said the killings were intended to protect Norway from Muslims and multiculturalism.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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