Nothing can be done to bring Mr Breivik’s victims back to life. The most compelling, non-mystical case for vengeance is that it offers some consolation to those wracked by desolation and fury at the murder of their loved one. But the point of a criminal justice system in a civilised society is not the mental peace of those collaterally wounded by crime. All evidence supports the proposition that Norway’s criminal justice system is both practically and morally superior to America’s. If America’s abominably cruel and unjust system delivered results even remotely comparable to Norway’s enviable level of civil peace and order, then there might be some reason to take seriously American animadversions against Norway’s short sentences and humane prison. But we don’t. We’re not even close. So Americans should just shut up and watch. It could do us some good to see how a civilised society handles such a horrifying crime.
Will Wilkinson, Plush and unusual punishment