Local history

Local history

The story of an institution

The Prison Reform Committee of 1951 and the need for a new national prison

At the beginning of the 1950s, a recognition emerged that it was imperative to implement reforms in the prison system. Reforms had previously been ruled out as a result of budgetary shortcomings before the war, the great strain that the system received during the war itself and the great task that followed with the implementation of the sentencing after the treason settlement. There was a need for major changes in the criminal justice response system. The Prison Act of 1903 was outdated, the prison buildings were obsolete and the recruitment and education system for civil servants had to be improved.

On April 6, 1951, a committee was therefore appointed to study reforms in the prison system. This committee submitted its recommendation on 25 June 1956. In the recommendation, the committee commented on significant reform issues and it also gave a draft law to a new prison law to replace the old one of 1903.

Picture of Ullersmo prison taken in 1985/1986

The committee wanted to extend the community treatment, which it thought was more suitable than the one-room treatment. Due to the prison system's many old institutions, this would require major structural changes and several new construction projects.

In the recommendation, the committee commented that it regarded work activities as an effective treatment in the rehabilitative work with the inmates. The committee pointed out that there were pedagogical opportunities in the work activities and that long-term convicts and young prisoners could receive vocational training. The setting also outlines how the work activity should be set up. The industrial prison is the idea from the committee that wanted working conditions similar to the companies that exist outside the walls and a large use of modern mechanical equipment to prepare the inmates for a working life after serving their sentences.

It is clear in retrospect that both of these premises were lazy as a basis for the design and utilization of Ullersmo National Prison. The most important thing about the committee's work is the comment about the need for a new national prison.


The Prison Reform Committee's recommendation of 1956 makes a number of remarks about the institutional system. The committee concluded that the prison service was in need of a new national prison.

"If we are to give a brief description of our prison system today, it must be said that in several respects it has lagged far behind in development… If the prison system is to be able to follow developments, it is therefore necessary to build a new prison for long-term prisoners." ”[1]

Such a conclusion must be seen in connection with the fact that at this time there was only one national prison in Norway, Botsfengselet in Oslo. Akershus National Prison was closed down on 30 June 1950 and had since the war still only had traitors. In addition, the 100-year-old in Åkebergveien was also in need of modernization, the institution could in no way meet the new requirements that the prison reforms would set. The committee proposed that a new national prison should be built as a smaller prison with room for 100 inmates and that it should be adjacent to the new district prison that the committee proposed built in Trondheim. Furthermore, the committee proposed that a new national prison be built in Eastern Norway or that the Penitentiary could possibly be modernized and until further notice still used as a national prison by reducing the space capacity from 226 to 180. It was a main point in the recommendation to the Prison Reform Committee to be able to carry out an appropriate differentiation of the long-term convicts.


The question of whether it was possible to modernize the Penitentiary was immediately raised in the Prison Board, but the conclusion was that it would be impossible to establish a full-fledged national prison in the area that would meet the requirements for a modern prison. The result was therefore that in Report to the Storting no. 8 1961-62, a national prison was built in Trondheim and one near Oslo. The new national prison in Eastern Norway was then to replace the Bots prison.


However, on the basis of finances, only one national prison was built. The prison in Trondheim became a district prison and to compensate for the loss of places of imprisonment in the national prison, the sentence limit for some district prisons was raised from five months to one and a half years.


Location and purchase

Early in 1959, investigations began to find a suitable site for a new national prison in Eastern Norway. The prison board set as formal requirements that the institution should not be more than XNUMX km from the capital and that there should be a good road and rail connection.


A suitable plot was found in Ski municipality in June 1959, but in the population there was considerable opposition to the prison being located there. The opposition was strongly expressed in the press and a letter of protest was sent to the Ministry of Justice on October 9, 1959 with 1339 signatures against a building.

Nevertheless, the Ministry proposed in the proposition to allocate NOK 800 for the purchase of this property over the budget for 000, but the Storting's Justice Committee requested that the land issue be investigated further before a final position was taken. Several offers for plots had been made after the proposition had been submitted.


Purchase of the plot Ullersmo

As early as 17 February 1960, the Ministry of Justice had received an offer from Gustav Bjerke to buy part of his property Ullersmo at Kløfta in Ullensaker municipality.


The first inspection of the Ullersmo site was carried out on 29 April 1960 and the property was found to be well suited for a prison site. In a letter of 9 November to the Storting's Justice Committee, the ministry explained the plot case and agreed that the choice should be between the plots Finstad in Ski and Ullersmo on Kløfta.

In the budget proposal from the Justice Committee on 13 November 1960, the majority proposed that Ullersmo be elected. Interestingly enough, two members agreed that plots in Brandbu on Toten and in Nes on Romerike, respectively, should be chosen.

The plot at Brandbu was also almost chosen when the Storting was to vote on the plot purchase.


In the final vote in the Storting on 24 November 1960, a vote prompted by a debate on whether to take prison-based interests or a district's business and employment interests as a starting point, Ullersmo was elected by 59 votes to 55 for Brandbu. As many as 36 representatives were absent during the voting.


The end of the land acquisition was therefore that Gustav Bjerke sold the plot Ullersmo on Kløfta in Ullensaker municipality to the Ministry of Justice. The purchase contract for Ullersmo was entered into on 17 August 1961 and the deed was issued on 10 October. The plot (gnr. 29, bnr. 268) that was bought was 285,6 decares and the purchase price was 754 828 kroner (1961 figures).

An adjoining property, Sagen (gnr. 29, bnr. 67) of approx. 4 acres, was also acquired by deed on November 29, 1961 for 70 kroner.


The property the Ministry of Justice bought from Gustav Bjerke had an optimal location in relation to the requirements the Prison Board had set for the location of a new national prison. Ullersmo is 3 km from Oslo Central Station, Kløfta station is 500m away from the institution area and Europaveien then passed through the town.

The plot for the planned working colony, which was to function as the national prison's open ward and thus replace the Bots prison's open ward Røafeltet, was found only 2 km east of the Ullersmo plot. The working colony can today be seen from the new E-6 before the exit to Kløfta.


Planning with a lot of back and forth

The planning work with the new national prison began at an early stage, in fact even before the site selection was ready. The planning was both lengthy and difficult before construction could begin.


First of all, one had to consider how big the prison should be. As early as January 6, 1959, the Prison Board swore an internal committee. It came with its recommendation on 2 May 1959 and believed that the national need for national prison places was 180, provided that the limit for national prison sentences was raised from five to nine months.

At this time, the planning of the new national prison was seen together with the planning of the new prison in Trondheim, where it was also intended that there should be a national prison department. In May 1961, the space program for national prisons was ready. Ullersmo was to have 133 places and Trondheim 60 national prison places. The program was submitted to the prison directors for a statement, and after their objections, a revised space program was available on August 1, 1961.


The Norwegian Building and Property Directorate prepared the preliminary drawings for Ullersmo. They were completed on 19 March 1962 after preparation by architect Frank Wilhelm Haugen in the directorate's planning department.

Based on prison professional assessments, Haugen's drawings were considered good. The accommodation buildings were laid out as two single-storey wings from a building with the prison's common rooms on two floors. A detached administration building on two floors and a workshop building were also added. It should all be tied together by a culvert.

Here we were talking about a modified pavilion system where the individual accommodation wards were located next to each other almost like terraced houses. The gross area was 12 square meters and the cost estimate was DKK 560 million.


The cost estimate was too high for the Ministry of Finance, which has now entered the picture. In a letter dated 18 May 1962, the Ministry stated that the cost estimates were significantly higher than expected. Therefore, it was requested that new space programs be prepared based on the fact that only one national prison was built, at Ullersmo, and that this national prison should occupy the places that were planned for the national prison department in Trondheim. The Trondheim prison should therefore only be planned as a pure circuit prison.

The Ministry of Finance had found that one could save at least five million kroner by building Ullersmo with an estimated 200 places.

The demands from the Ministry of Finance led to a reassessment of the entire situation and the Ministry of Justice justified in a report of 27 July 1962 why two national prisons should be built. The report led to a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on 16 August 1962 where it was decided that the Ministry of Justice had to accept that Ullersmo should have 206 places and that Trondheim should have 92 places without a national prison department. A new space program for both prisons was therefore prepared and was available on 22 October 1962.


However, the changes were not over yet. During the Storting's consideration of the budget bill for 1963 on 13 November 1962, several representatives argued that two national prisons should be built as proposed in Report to the Storting no. 8 1961-62. A proposal to ask the government to follow the guidelines set out in the White Paper was adopted and representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance had to meet again to discuss the problem.


In a letter of 23 November 1962 to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice proposed that Ullersmo should have 184 seats and Trondheim 114 and another new space program was prepared. The area calculation now showed 13 sqm for Ullersmo and the cost estimate was 308 million. The costs for Trondheim Prison were estimated at 20,7 million.

Such a solution could not be accepted by the Ministry of Finance. In a letter dated 4 February 1963, the Ministry of Finance demanded that a concentrated construction method be chosen and that the pavilion system not be used as a basis. Due to the high costs, it was requested that further savings be made in the space program and it was an absolute prerequisite that a sober standard should be used as a basis. In particular, the Ministry of Finance pointed out that some common rooms should be used for several purposes. Hobby rooms should be added to the basement, the inpatient ward simplified, a teaching room of 55 sqm eliminated and the assembly hall reduced by 50 sqm. It should also be considered whether departmental kitchens could be eliminated.

Previously, the Ministry of Finance had considered the idea of ​​reducing the workshop premises if the prison service could consider introducing shift work for the inmates and thus also for the operations staff. However, this proposal fell when the Ministry of Justice found that it could not accept such a solution.

Furthermore, it was also demanded that a possible expansion of the number of prison places at Ullersmo should be included in the planning.


In a letter dated 28 February 1963, the Ministry of Justice regretted that the plan solution that had emerged and which was very satisfactory in terms of prison was to be replaced by a solution that was both unfavorable in terms of prison and operations.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice did not want further delays and it was found according to the circumstances that it would not oppose the changes that the Ministry of Finance had decided.

An important change therefore occurred in the plans for the construction of Ullersmo. Instead of building the prison as a pavilion system with the individual wards separated from each other in single-storey wings, one had to accept two-storey outbuildings that did not provide such good separation. In addition, large teaching rooms and the ward were reduced as requested by the Ministry of Finance, while hobby rooms and kitchens were retained in the ward.


On 12 June 1963, the Ministry of Finance finally approved the space programs in the form in which agreement had been reached.


Construction process

The Norwegian Building and Property Directorate could not take on the continued design work for Ullersmo and therefore the architects Kjell Ullring and Henning Zernichow were hired to carry out the work.

Preliminary project for the national prison was submitted on 31 August 1964. During the planning work, a number of minor changes were made to the plans that originally formed the basis.


Ullersmo housing units

The final result was that the prison was built with eight general wards with 20 places, a reception ward with 15 places, two youth wards with 10 places each and a difficult ward with 10 places. In total, Ullersmo thus got 205 places.


The penitentiary in Oslo was closed down and the inmates were transferred by transport to the new national prison at Kløfta during September and October 1970.

Ullersmo National Prison is officially considered to have been taken into use from 1 November 1970.