Trope-a-Day: Cryo Prison

Cryo Prison: Not something they use any more than any other kind of prison (although at least it would be more humane) – but in related concepts, they do keep uploaded mind-states of executed felons around in dead storage (places like the Aeon Pit) just in case. Turns out that with sufficient technology, you actually can undo the death penalty.

11 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Cryo Prison

  1. When I wrote that trope I noted that it doesn’t really do any good if you intend to let them out at any point. The only “punishment” aspect is future shock and in most cases there’s no way to rehabilitate criminals, one of the few exceptions being Demolition Man’s “knitting lessons/brainwashing”. Time-accelerated virtual reality would probably be better.

    As an alternative to life imprisonment or execution, or after execution, cryonics would make sense though.

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    • Well, that depends on what your view about prison is.

      I don’t know what the case is in the US, but here prison is NOT intended to punish people. Its goal is to keep bad people away from society. In that optic, cryonics make a lot of sense.

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        • Hum, apparently my memories were fuzzy. After checking what the Law says, it appears that « custodial sentences are designed to protect society, ensure punishment and facilitate reinsertion » – note the order, though. So cryo only has one on three, not so good then.

          To answer you :
          – Because not crimes are not the same, and it is thought that after X years away you have “payed back your debt toward society”
          – Because we’re not in the Eldraeverse, and can’t relive people ?.

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          • The concept of “paying your debt to society” comes from the idea of compensation which is the root of the ideas of punishment, revenge, and justice.

            If a justice system is concerned solely with protecting society and not with punishment or rehabilitation, as you’ve discovered is not the case with your country, the most effective way is to kill all criminals.

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          • To offer an in-universe perspective, the concept of prison as “paying your debt to society” is one of the many things that would make an Imperial look askance at us and ask “Are you high?”

            ‘Cause really. Society locks you up where you can’t do anything productive, feeds, clothes, doctors and houses you (at least) at its own expense, then turns you loose with a big gap in your life experience and resume that’ll make it very hard for you to be productive (and more likely that society will be paying to support you) in the future – and this is supposed to reimburse society for your special crime? How does that even?

            (That’s before they get into pointing out that prison (a) often serves as a very effective school turning criminals into worse criminals – so much for facilitating reinsertion – and (b) is de facto torture-by-proxy; it’s just that locking people up together and letting them beat and rape each other lets the public pretend their hands are clean and it’s not exactly what the plurality of vengeful assholes among them wanted to happen.)

            The Empire is very keen on people paying their debt to society. That’s what fines and costs are for, and if necessary to ensure they’re paid, distraint and indenture. Where rehabilitation is concerned, that’s a medical matter – as covered here, if you have someone who’s broken-but-fixable, you fix ’em.

            But if they can’t be fixed, and/or can’t ever pay off their debt, even before reinstantiation was possible, they’d just execute ’em. It’s more humane – mostly painless and over quickly. They would find it quite incomprehensible that we think it’s more humane to cage someone for life under miserable conditions than to kill them quick and clean, belike.

            (And would strongly suspect that humaneness wasn’t actually the point..)

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            • The debt spoken of in debts to society is not necessarily a financial one, though. How could it be? If your child was murdered, is there really a sum of money that would make it OK? How about a replacement child?

              Legal punishments are (often) a proxy for a perceived debt (probably an artefact of the human mind that eg. space elves may not have) that can’t realistically be repaid, but no-one has thought of a better way to deal with the uynderlying problem. They might even assuage the guilt of the criminal, and mollify the feelings of the victims.

              Using execution as a general punishment for crime is clearly a stupid idea though. Even beyond the issue of miscarriages of justice… ever heard of the saying, “may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb”? Have a think about its meaning.

              (incidentally, I can recommend “Debt: The First 5000 years” by David Graeber, if you’ve not already read it)

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              • The debt spoken of in debts to society is not necessarily a financial one, though. How could it be? If your child was murdered, is there really a sum of money that would make it OK?

                There have been plenty of societies in human history that thought so. Weregeld was the Viking term, but there are plenty of other examples.

                Legal punishments are (often) a proxy for a perceived debt (probably an artefact of the human mind that eg. space elves may not have) that can’t realistically be repaid, but no-one has thought of a better way to deal with the uynderlying problem. They might even assuage the guilt of the criminal, and mollify the feelings of the victims.

                And let us stipulate that it does not perfectly restore the status quo ante; it is merely partial recompense. That’s still better than no recompense, which is what the victims get from imprisoning the criminal, even before we count the costs to society at large.

                (Except for satisfying their, and society at large’s, need for vengeance. While that might appear to mollify their feelings, psychologically it doesn’t appear to actually help in healing – and indeed, it encourages the worst parts of our nature.)

                Using execution as a general punishment for crime is clearly a stupid idea though. Even beyond the issue of miscarriages of justice… ever heard of the saying, “may as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb”? Have a think about its meaning.

                The discouragement, in the Imperial system, is not that escalating on the scale of crimes brings harsher penalties (although it does); it’s that escalating increases the probability that instead of facing reparation, weregeld, and meme rehab, you instead are judged irredeemable and get to face reparation, weregeld, and the lethal chamber.

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                • There have been plenty of societies in human history that thought so. Weregeld was the Viking term, but there are plenty of other examples.

                  Not quite; it doesn’t make it OK by any means, but it is considered to draw a line under the matter and seeking further recompense or revenge would be presumably unreasonable or illegal under the rules or customs of the society involved.

                  Except for satisfying their, and society at large’s, need for vengeance. While that might appear to mollify their feelings, psychologically it doesn’t appear to actually help in healing – and indeed, it encourages the worst parts of our nature.

                  Yeah, I was considering adding a bit more talking about the old “an eye for an eye” thing; in a trivial sense it seems to satisfy our innate sense of fairness but it doesn’t make anything better for anyone, or even return to the status quo.

                  you instead are judged irredeemable

                  …which is a splendid term, in the context of a discussion of value and reparations.

                  That aside, that particular comment was more aimed at joelkreissman, and perhaps should have been labelled as such. No-one seems to have invented a good graph-structured commenting system, alas.

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