In the mid-19th century, Norwegian public services were expanded, among them asylums and prisons. The physician Frederik Holst (1791-1871) was instrumental in the development of both fields. He travelled extensively abroad studying public institutions and had considerable influence on the planning of a new modern penitentiary in Oslo, Botsfengselet, which opened in 1851.
The article is based on Holst's printed lectures and reports.
Holst was obviously influenced by the Enlightenment ideas of the 18th century and the contemporary international debate on prisons. He promoted panoptic asylums and prisons with good hygienic standards and the necessary degree of confinement. In the case of asylums, the panoptic principles were discarded before they were implemented, but the new Oslo prison was built as a panoptic institution and according to the Philadelphia system of one cell for each inmate.
Holst's writing indicates a commitment to health issues, though he maintained that serving time in a prison was an intended punishment with social rehabilitation as the desired outcome.