Cryogenic prisons: What I don't understand

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Some science fiction use cryogenic prisons as the "ultimate punishment" with the ability to make criminals serve thousands of life sentences. However, I can't seem to wrap my head around the idea.

Wouldn't being frozen technically be a reward?

You would live and be able to see humanity centuries in the future, which may have clinical immortality at that time. The idea of being able to live forever seems like a reward, not a punishment or rehabilitation. I would imagine being frozen would be a like very long sleep, so you wake up in the future learning absolutely nothing. Yet i still see some instances of fiction using these prisons.

To me, the idea of cryogenic prisons is a terrible idea, like replacing the sand in a kid's sand box with asbestos. Then you have the problem of the financial issues. If a criminal has money in the bank and is frozen for a couple thousands years, wouldn't that interest be compounded and end up like Fry from futurama?

So, Escapist, am I missing something here? Where exactly is the "consequence" in cryogenic prisons?

If you are awake for the duration of the sentence, and feel thousands upon thousands of years passing, i imagine it'd be a terrible punishment, thousands of years frozen, seeing time pass, with no sleep.

This gives me shivers just to think about.

But isn't the point of cryogenics to keep the prisoner in such a low state of conciousness that they wouldn't be aware of what's going on around them over the years. Basically, they would be right on the borderline between total unconciousness and not concious enough to see and inevitably be sent mad by watching the many years pass them by.

This is under the assumption that they are unable to feel, see, experience anything while under cryogenic stasis. Under that assumption, you sleep (kinda) and you're unaware of the passage of time. Ultimately, you wake up without the feeling that you've been punished.

However, if there is some method of making the convict experience something while in stasis, that would be good. For example, and I know that this is a horrible movie, the cryo-prisoners in the movie "Demolition Man" underwent some sort of rehabilitation program while in stasis. This would be ideal under the idea that cryo-prisons would be a place for rehabilitation rather than punishment. But if you're in the punishing mood, why not have the prisoner experience their crime through the eyes of the victim? Spend thousands of years being raped and murdered (or vice versa: Murdered then raped).

You wake up in a new society, where you know nothing and noone, cant use the basic commodities and likely look like a chimpanzee in a room with scientists. Unless they have invented a fast-learning implant for free, then yes its a reward. Still, everyone you knew are dead, if you care about that stuff.

Strazdas:
You wake up in a new society, where you know nothing and noone, cant use the basic commodities and likely look like a chimpanzee in a room with scientists. Unless they have invented a fast-learning implant for free, then yes its a reward

I could see using this as a practical joke on some poor prisoner. Just making him go to sleep, wheel him into some other part of the prison gussied up to look all futuristic.

Strazdas:
Still, everyone you knew are dead, if you care about that stuff.

And that is punishment how? =D

Strazdas:
You wake up in a new society, where you know nothing and noone, cant use the basic commodities and likely look like a chimpanzee in a room with scientists. Unless they have invented a fast-learning implant for free, then yes its a reward. Still, everyone you knew are dead, if you care about that stuff.

The problem of compound interest still applies. Sure people might scoff, but who cares?

You have literal billions in the bank.

Just do some more crimes and maybe that turns into trillions.

All your friends are dead, you can't even speak the language. There's a relatively good chance that you won't be able to integrate into the new society, providing that civilisation hasn't fallen apart.

Et cetera.

overpuce:

Strazdas:
You wake up in a new society, where you know nothing and noone, cant use the basic commodities and likely look like a chimpanzee in a room with scientists. Unless they have invented a fast-learning implant for free, then yes its a reward

I could see using this as a practical joke on some poor prisoner. Just making him go to sleep, wheel him into some other part of the prison gussied up to look all futuristic.

Strazdas:
Still, everyone you knew are dead, if you care about that stuff.

And that is punishment how? =D

that is why i added "if you care about that stuff". There are a lot of people that do.

The problem of compound interest still applies. Sure people might scoff, but who cares?

You have literal billions in the bank.

Just do some more crimes and maybe that turns into trillions.

save for the crime-lords, msot criminals dont have much in their bank accounts. also, thier money could be frozen, ir taken away as a fine. and thats all assuming that the bank will survive the next few thousand years your in cryostasis. also the bank interest usually hardly covers inflation, so while he may have a billion when he wakes up, it may as well cost a billion to buy bread. the actual purchasing power will change very little.

Strazdas:
-SNIP-
that is why i added "if you care about that stuff". There are a lot of people that do.
-SNIP-

Yeah, I read that part after posting. =(

As to the part about inflation, lets assume you have $50 in a bank that doesn't leverage fees against you (riiiiight). With the current average APY being around 2.0% right now.

$50 with 2.0% APY over 1000 years = $19,913,232,582.91

However with inflation (the average in the US being 3.43%), you would actually be worth less than $50 in 1000 years.

$50 with 3.43% Inflation over 1000 years = $22,156,169,980,764,356 <- This is what equals $50 today.

At least I think that's what it is in principal (it's been a while since I took a finance course).

Jean Hag:
If you are awake for the duration of the sentence, and feel thousands upon thousands of years passing, i imagine it'd be a terrible punishment, thousands of years frozen, seeing time pass, with no sleep.

This gives me shivers just to think about.

That would truly be awful, inhumane, even. I dareasay the criminals wouldn't be evil on purpose anymore, they'd simply be insane beyond any possible cure.

The cryogenic sleep option may rehabilitate some people who care about what they missed, but the worst of the criminals, the truly self serving heartless b******s wouldn't care at all.

So yeah, cryogenic prisons are bad in every single form of crime, except perhaps aboard a spaceship. Think about it, if on a mining ship, a worker does something completely inexcusable, it goes without saying that they can't work for the company anymore, so you ain't paying them, but it'll be months before you can dump them on a planet. Meanwhile, if not in cryosleep, you're keeping this guy in humane conditions with the company's money and the ship's supplies. In this situation, cryogenic prison would be a good solution until the criminal can be properly punished.

EDIT: I just came up with something. What if you could manipulate the criminal's dreams? If they had them while in cryogenic sleep? In order to have bad dreams about what they did, they'd have to feel guilt, which won't work for some prisoners. If you could manipulate their dreams, you could turn their peaceful sleep into a horrifying nightmare in which they are forced to face up to their crimes, a'la silent hill, with the possibility of release when they have learned their lesson.

It depends on the purpose of prison.

If the purpose of prison is simply to remove people from society. Cryogenics seems like a good way to go. Whether it would actually be cheaper than just locking people up and hiring guards is another matter, and certainly in the foreseeable future I imagine it would be hugely more expensive.

However, a far easier way to accomplish the same result is to privatize prisons and let the companies who own them recoup their expenses through forced labour. This is currently pretty normal in the US, although it has lead to the reputation US prisons have internationally of being inhumane and primarily centred on turning a profit rather than prisoner well-being.

Personally, however, I think this is all backtracking on some of the very earliest attempts at prison reform. The ideal prison isn't a dumping ground to get the "baddies" off the streets, it's a system of behavioural control which people can carry over into their lives outside of prison, and it's currently a failing system because there is no political will to put money into it.

The goal should be to reduce re-offending, and while conventional prisons don't do that very well, cryogenic prisons seem unlikely to be significantly better.

Also, just because I don't see the logic. If there is clinical immortality in the future, what makes you think it will ever be available to everyone? Why assume the future will be a nicer or more enlightened place than the present?

Doclector:

EDIT: I just came up with something. What if you could manipulate the criminal's dreams? If they had them while in cryogenic sleep? In order to have bad dreams about what they did, they'd have to feel guilt, which won't work for some prisoners. If you could manipulate their dreams, you could turn their peaceful sleep into a horrifying nightmare in which they are forced to face up to their crimes, a'la silent hill, with the possibility of release when they have learned their lesson.

Yeah, they had something like that in Demolition Man (that crap movie with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes). Anyways, the Cryoprisoners are kept in stasis all the while being rehabilitated through subconscious suggestion (Wesley Snipes' character having been taught violent skills like hand to hand combat, weapons use etc. whereas Stallone's character is taught knitting).

You could subconsciously suggest that committing another crime with kill them.

Doclector:
I just came up with something. What if you could manipulate the criminal's dreams? If they had them while in cryogenic sleep? In order to have bad dreams about what they did, they'd have to feel guilt, which won't work for some prisoners. If you could manipulate their dreams, you could turn their peaceful sleep into a horrifying nightmare in which they are forced to face up to their crimes, a'la silent hill, with the possibility of release when they have learned their lesson.

Or, if we're fine with going Clockwork Orange, you could just use technology which already exists, implant a light responsive electrode in people's heads and give every guard a laser pointer. If a prisoner behaves well, a guard lasers them and they feel contentment or pleasure.

Heck, you could have a second electrode which induces dizzyness or nausea and use it to punish bad behaviour. It wouldn't fit any definition of torture the US government has ever subscribed to, although other countries might have a problem.

This could probably be done within a couple of years, without having to invent dream manipulation technology (which I don't think would work anyway, I think the whole point of cryogenics is that the person is effectively dead - so no REM sleep).

I personally think any form of forced surgery is a bridge too far, but just putting out a much cheaper solution if you're just going to wheel in the brain scrambler.

Ultratwinkie:

So, Escapist, am I missing something here? Where exactly is the "consequence" in cryogenic prisons?

I've always thought the same thing!

I love Peter F Hamilton's sci-fi, but I find it really breaks the immersion whenever he mentions people being kept 'in suspension"' as a punishment, because I always think "Well that's stupid".

If you aren't concious, you're just going to fall asleep then wake up as if you'd had a nap. There would be a punishing aspect - everyone you know being dead - but that's hardly going to turn someone into a functioning member of society. The point of prison is to change and rehabilitate someone - being unconscious the whole time isn't going to do that.

In fact, it would be worse - given the general trend towards liberalism, humanity and social care these days, it's likely that future people would be far more 'politically correct' and so on than the people of the day.
So if you put someone in suspension for 1000 years, they'll come out into a society that's far less violent, less xenophobic, and generally more civilised than they are. That's the very antithesis of rehabilitation!

It'd be like suddenly bringing an 11th century Crusader into a modern multicultural city and expecting them to fit in. It isn't going to work.

cryogenic prison with the sentence served consious.

solitary confinement is regarded by many as the worst punishment in most prisons and drives alot of people frankly crazy

evilthecat:

Doclector:
I just came up with something. What if you could manipulate the criminal's dreams? If they had them while in cryogenic sleep? In order to have bad dreams about what they did, they'd have to feel guilt, which won't work for some prisoners. If you could manipulate their dreams, you could turn their peaceful sleep into a horrifying nightmare in which they are forced to face up to their crimes, a'la silent hill, with the possibility of release when they have learned their lesson.

Or, if we're fine with going Clockwork Orange, you could just use technology which already exists, implant a light responsive electrode in people's heads and give every guard a laser pointer. If a prisoner behaves well, a guard lasers them and they feel contentment or pleasure.

Heck, you could have a second electrode which induces dizzyness or nausea and use it to punish bad behaviour. It wouldn't fit any definition of torture the US government has ever subscribed to, although other countries might have a problem.

This could probably be done within a couple of years, without having to invent dream manipulation technology (which I don't think would work anyway, I think the whole point of cryogenics is that the person is effectively dead - so no REM sleep).

I personally think any form of forced surgery is a bridge too far, but just putting out a much cheaper solution if you're just going to wheel in the brain scrambler.

Well, I wasn't thinking about FORCING the criminal into not committing such acts, then you haven't made a good person, you've made a robot. I was more talking about making the criminal realise that what he did was wrong, how wrong it was, and why. That turns it moreso into a matter of whether the person genuinely wishes to become a better person. How to do this is the question. Maybe showing the criminal his/her actions from a third person? Or like I said, more of a silent hill esque metaphorical mind game?

overpuce:

Yeah, they had something like that in Demolition Man (that crap movie with Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes). Anyways, the Cryoprisoners are kept in stasis all the while being rehabilitated through subconscious suggestion (Wesley Snipes' character having been taught violent skills like hand to hand combat, weapons use etc. whereas Stallone's character is taught knitting).

Yes, I love that film.

Doclector:

EDIT: I just came up with something. What if you could manipulate the criminal's dreams? If they had them while in cryogenic sleep? In order to have bad dreams about what they did, they'd have to feel guilt, which won't work for some prisoners. If you could manipulate their dreams, you could turn their peaceful sleep into a horrifying nightmare in which they are forced to face up to their crimes, a'la silent hill, with the possibility of release when they have learned their lesson.

This is fucking weird. It's like my thought process is being ninja'd by this thread. First someone else thinks that suspension is a stupid punishment, when I've always thought the same, but have never mentioned it. And now you write that!

I was musing the other day about what I'd do if I was omnipotent for 10 mins. And the answer I decided on was that I'd have some kind of telepathy so that every person dreamed about their actions from the perspective of the people they affected.
Obviously it'd have to be non-lucid, otherwise you'd have privacy problems - and it would have to be limited in some capacity, otherwise you'd get the butterfly effect.

But the net effect would be that people would have good dreams if they were generally good to people, and horrible ones if they were bad. It would be like a (non-flawed) natural mechanism for altruistic behaviour.

Cryogenic incarceration does not seem like much of a punishment. As stated above, you will only be put to sleep and the time that passes during your sleep will be a waste because you will be neither punished nor have learned anything. It seems more of a punishment for good individuals, as you will be leaving your previous life, relations, and loved ones behind for an unfamiliar world which you will have no one to lean on.

I would instead invest on keeping prisoners in a state of semi-immortality. They would be locked up in a tube, small and cramped so that they cannot move comfortably, always be standing, and always under supervision. They will not require food to survive, but will always feel hungry. Their muscles will always be cramped from constantly standing, but will still have energy to continually remain standing and speak when given permission to (forgot to add that they are in a air-tight tube so they cannot be heard, even within their own tube). They also will be in a well lit room, so they will not be allowed to sleep, yet will not become exhausted. Over time, they will age as they normally would without having any complications so that they can continue to live out their sentence unhindered.

So if a prisoner where to somehow escape their imprisonment, they would be weak, frail, malnourished, sleep deprived, and laundry list of other issues that might arise, making a healthy recovery take months or ever years.

Seems like I am not the only one who finds the idea of cryo prisons to be stupid.

Well i'm gonna have to go with:
everything you ever knew is now gone/dead
yeah that would probably fuck with my mind a bit

overpuce:

Strazdas:
-SNIP-
that is why i added "if you care about that stuff". There are a lot of people that do.
-SNIP-

Yeah, I read that part after posting. =(

As to the part about inflation, lets assume you have $50 in a bank that doesn't leverage fees against you (riiiiight). With the current average APY being around 2.0% right now.

$50 with 2.0% APY over 1000 years = $19,913,232,582.91

However with inflation (the average in the US being 3.43%), you would actually be worth less than $50 in 1000 years.

$50 with 3.43% Inflation over 1000 years = $22,156,169,980,764,356 <- This is what equals $50 today.

At least I think that's what it is in principal (it's been a while since I took a finance course).

Yep the principle is correct, thorough ofc the numbers would differ because it fluctuates year to year.

Doesn't cryogenic freezing limit molecular movement and everything? If so, how could anyone be conscious while subdued in this manner? Or aware of anything?

Heinrich843:
Doesn't cryogenic freezing limit molecular movement and everything? If so, how could anyone be conscious while subdued in this manner? Or aware of anything?

They couldn't.

OT: Yea it's a bit daft, but I can only really think of one film that has done that. Demolition man, and if we're being honest it wasn't exactly the best film Stalone has done... and that's saying something.

Everyone has good points. but to get past most (not all) of them you could just have them "asleep" for there loooong sentence and at the end....unplug the chamber/cell. Just make sure that theyre at least semi aware or something and you gotta pretty bad punishment. Aware of time going by being able to do nothing about it the whole time but know at the end your gonna just die and you wont know when. Gives you alot of time to think about what you've done,and no time to make amends after you realize your wrong.

Safe to say it should probably only be used for the worst criminals of the future.

overpuce:
*snip*

I had a well thought out response to to OP, but then I saw your avatar and completely lost it.
DAMN THOSE SUCCUBUS BEWBIES!

you are right about that but what if you are still conscious for all those years.
Frozen and no way to communicate aware of the time passing by without any form of contact.
then there is also the culture shock of everyone you knew being dead for thousands of years.

Strazdas:
You wake up in a new society, where you know nothing and noone, cant use the basic commodities and likely look like a chimpanzee in a room with scientists.

Yes, just think about the psychological punishment of not even knowing how the three shells work!

Cryogenic prisons would create a SEP field around them, making it an expensive but effective way to deal with the problem without death sentence.

Otherwise, there is the possibility that people are still conscious during cryogenic sleep, which would make for a particularly brutal punishment.

This reminds me of the first TekWar book (the series supposedly written by William Shatner, but actually ghost written by someone else.) The book opens up with the main character getting pulled out of a cryofreeze prison because, as it turns out, he was framed. His friends and family are still alive, but they're all a lot older than they were when he was frozen. His son, who was a young child when he went in, is now an older teen who hates him for abandoning him. His wife has divorced him in his absence, and in general, his life is screwed up. I can't remember if that book had the "visions of your crime" thing that someone mentioned above, but even if it didn't, that's a hell of a punishment.

Doesn't cryogenically freezing people still have that awkward issue of... well, killing them?

But if this is discussing the future tech that makes snap-freezing someone not an insta-kill... then it's probably still a stupid idea. What's the point of the freezing? The prisoner isn't conscious during the freezing so there isn't any chance of rehabilitation while there frozen... so all that happens is a punishment that can range from severe (frozen several years, resulting in a significant loss) to down right brutal (frozen hundreds/thousands of years, destroying everything they knew or loved, possibly twisting their minds into something worse then when they went into the freezer).

Which is, as I recall, one of the big problems with our current prison system, which consists of minimal rehabilitation with punishment. So... it's actually worse then the system we've got now.

CrimsonBlaze:
Cryogenic incarceration does not seem like much of a punishment. As stated above, you will only be put to sleep and the time that passes during your sleep will be a waste because you will be neither punished nor have learned anything. It seems more of a punishment for good individuals, as you will be leaving your previous life, relations, and loved ones behind for an unfamiliar world which you will have no one to lean on.

I would instead invest on keeping prisoners in a state of semi-immortality. They would be locked up in a tube, small and cramped so that they cannot move comfortably, always be standing, and always under supervision. They will not require food to survive, but will always feel hungry. Their muscles will always be cramped from constantly standing, but will still have energy to continually remain standing and speak when given permission to (forgot to add that they are in a air-tight tube so they cannot be heard, even within their own tube). They also will be in a well lit room, so they will not be allowed to sleep, yet will not become exhausted. Over time, they will age as they normally would without having any complications so that they can continue to live out their sentence unhindered.

So if a prisoner where to somehow escape their imprisonment, they would be weak, frail, malnourished, sleep deprived, and laundry list of other issues that might arise, making a healthy recovery take months or ever years.

Well fuck, if your just gonna torture the bastards you might as well put a bullet through their brains, save yourself money in the long run.

Heinrich843:
Doesn't cryogenic freezing limit molecular movement and everything? If so, how could anyone be conscious while subdued in this manner? Or aware of anything?

The concepts behind most Sci-Fi are usually formed through socratic questioning "What if A existed with B, but could do C... what would happen?" It's all hypothetical.

In Sci-Fi, not everything is grounded in reality, or even basic physics. For the sake of convenience or narrative flavor, sometimes certain fundamentals might be omitted or ignored, with hope that the average viewer doesn't take this deliberate stretching of plausibility too seriously.

So in the case of conscious stasis, they just said "what if we could cryogenicaly suspend people indefinitely while they still retain some degree consciousness?" The existential terror of that prospect makes it a good concept for punishing a character, or causing immense trauma to another. They probably don't consider the plausibility of even achieving such a thing... since the objective of Sci-Fi is to excite the imagination, not teach us of things that don't exist yet.

Technically you'd be dead.
So in other words, you may as well execute them, unless you ever plan to unfreeze them (why you would I don't know, unless they are proven innocent or something).

For whatever reason I'm reminded of "The Pool Guy", an episode of the Twilight Zone. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0734810/

I would suggest it to anyone interested, but if you just want the break down...

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