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Inmate Power Grid

Make them pedal back their debt to society.
  (+7, -3)
(+7, -3)
  [vote for,

With the west coast of the United States beginning to suffer a huge power shortage, why don't we look to the prisons for cheap and effective power generation solutions? Don't build more expensive and environmentally damaging power plants! My idea is simple. Hook up hundreds and hundreds of treadmills, stationary bicycles and hamster wheels to dynamos... and get the inmates of all the prisions in, say, California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona, working out on them. The power they generate could be put on the grid in whatever state they prison was in. I mean, come on... if we have to feed these inmates, let's put them to work that won't get them out in public too much. Put them on treadmills! Why, I bet San Quentin prision alone could generate several megawatts a day if we really got this organized. It is cheap and environmentally friendly, too! And the health and rehabilitation benefits to the inmates would be immense... imagine how good you'd look and feel if you spent, say, 8 hours on a treadmill every day for 25 years to life?
Quietus, Mar 31 2001

[1] http://www.cdc.stat...facility/instsq.htm
San Quentin State Prison [egnor, Mar 31 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

[2] http://www.windstre...npower/hpgtech.html
Human Power Generator System [egnor, Mar 31 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Voluntary version. http://www.halfbake...ed_20Health_20Clubs
[jutta, Mar 31 2001]


       Watts measure power. "Megawatts per day" is not a sensible unit. In any case, there are currently 6,121 inmates currently held at San Quentin. [1] A human pedaling a bicycle (the most efficient form of human power generator known) can produce ~ 100W of continuous power. [2] Even if you had every single San Quentin inmate pedaling away at once, that's only 600kW of energy. Assuming 8 hours per prisoner per day (which is probably generous), that's a net power output of 200kW.   

       That's probably not even enough to run San Quentin itself, let alone add any power to the grid.
egnor, Mar 31 2001

       ...and lets not consider the outcome (given the level of crime committed by re-offenders) of giving the criminal poulation an unusually high level of athletic training. C'mon, those donut eating police have a hard enough job catching them in the first place.
mcscotland, Apr 02 2001

       <g> but, mcscot, dont' we already provide more mundane athletic equipment? Free weights, dumbells, etc?
absterge, Apr 02 2001

       true, I just have a vision of masked, striped-jumpered, swag-bag carrying miscreants declining the getaway car lift because they can already out-cycle most of the traditional modes of pursuit.
mcscotland, Apr 03 2001

       Perhaps we should sentence them to a number of KW or bicicle miles rather than years. or give points toward parole based on power output.
marymalibu, Feb 26 2003

       How is this different from the prison slave labor as practiced in previous centuries. I can't believe you would advocate a return to the barbaric practices of yesteryear, what with...   


       They are still using prison labor today? Phone centers, you say?   

       Never mind.
dbsousa, Jun 12 2003

       [insert obligatory comment about turning humans into 'copper tops' with green glyphs floating by].... Take the red pill....
xercyn, Jun 12 2003

       The judge could declare the convict to be so - and - so many kilometers away from human society to give the "sentencing them to an amount of kilometers" idea more flavor.
Saruman, Jul 05 2003

       I presume you have an idea to punish the white collar criminals more harshly than the blue collar ones. I mean it's only fair.
thecat, Jul 05 2003

       How about: white-collar criminals' bicycles only have one pedal. <g>
DZA, Jul 18 2003

       Remember the matrix?? Hahaha And have them pedal, just because it would be hard... Cruel & Unusual you say? Of course, thats y its a good idea...
althyr, Jul 18 2003

       If you changed the lightbulbs in the prison to compact florescents, there might be some "extra" power. Who cares if there is even a net plus, at least they are reducing the amount of resources they are using from outside the prison. I say they be but to work growing their own food though - much more efficient - no work, no eat!
trekbody, Oct 28 2004

       I think this is a step in the right direction. Whatever about the evils of hard labour as a sentence, surely letting convicts sit around doing nothing for their sentences is more harmful than making them work? And even if the power generated wouldn't quite power the prisons, isn't it better that the prisons are nearly self-sustaining electrically? Of course, it doesn't do much to rehabilitate the prisoners, so maybe teaching them some basic skill and then putting them to work at that is better, but generally, I think that the idea of enforced labour is good. Thumbs up.
duh_don, May 30 2009


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