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Prisoners at the Åna Prison in Norway are reportedly heartbroken after it was announced that its farm is to be shut down.
The news has shattered the prison's inmates, who regularly milked cows and engaged in other farming activities while fighting their addictions.
"I got so much from working on the farm," said a former prisoner at Åna, who prefers to be known as Patrick, according to the Aftenbladet newspaper. "It taught me a lot about responsibility. I couldn't skip a day, as the cows depended on me for milking at regular times."
Working with animals at the farm helped Patrick overcome his drug addiction. Now he is campaigning against the farm's closure, along with KY – the Norwegian union for prison staff – that claims the closure will affect the local community as well as prison staff.
However, prison governor Inger Klementrud claims that other activities – such as carpentry, construction and machinery – are more likely to help the prisoners start a new life after serving their jail term, given the demand for these skills in the job market.
"It's nice for inmates to be around animals, but the Correctional Service oversees their sentences, not therapy," said Klementrud.
Norway is known to have the world's most humane prisons. At Halden, a high-security Norwegian prison, approximately £7m was spent on paintings, photography and light installations to ease the psychological burdens of imprisonment, according to Time Magazine.