Prisons are supposed to serve some combination of four purposes:
punishment; deterrence; rehabilitation; and public protection.
The first two of these (punishment and deterrence) are effectively
one and the same: the deterrent effect of prison depends on how
punishing it is (and, of course,
on the perceived risk of being
caught). So, we are down to punishment, rehabilitation and
protection. The latter two are also closely intertwined (a truly
rehabilitated offender would, by definition, not reoffend on
release), so things boil down to punishment and rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation is not best done in a regular prison. The
is not usually conducive; prisoners learn new criminal skills; and,
any case, someone who has lost 10 years out of their life is going
find it all the harder to return to society as a model citizen.
MaxConvict, Inc., is in discussions with the government to set up
Slave Prisons around the country.
Slave prisons mete out much harsher punishment than regular
prisons, but there is a trade-off.
Suppose a young offender is given a sentence of 15 years for a
serious assault. He (or she) can opt to serve that time in a regular
prison, in which case he will serve the usual term, as is the case
However, the offender can, *entirely at his own discretion* choose
go to Slave Prison, under one of several degrees of punishment.
can opt for the Slave Lite option: in this case, he is given a
cell than a regular prison, fewer socialising and excercise
opportunities, no TV etc*. In exchange for the increased hardship
this incarceration, his tariff is reduced to, say, 9 years.
Or, he might opt to go for the next level, in which things are even
more unpleasant: harsher conditions, forced labour, etc - nothing
which places his life or health in danger, but which makes his life
very unpleasant. In this case, his tariff is reduced more, perhaps
only 5 years of this living purgatory.
Finally (and at this point I am suspect I'm skating on thin eggshells
without a paddle), the offender can opt (again, entirely at his own
discretion) to compress all his punishment into the minimum
of time: 15 sessions, spread over 15 weeks, of a treatment which
inflicts excruciating pain for 24 hours, but which causes no
At any point, the offender can say "Enough!!" and return to normal
prison. In this case, their tariff is still reduced by some amount,
proportional to the increased punishment they endured.
I suspect that many young offenders, who still had a chance at a
decent life, might favour this option if given the choice. It would
also of course relieve the pressure on the prison service if some
tariffs were shortened.
Finally, of course, this does nothing to address the question of
rehabilitation. But, if what one hears about "rehabilitation" in
prisons is true, this is no great loss. Indeed, prisoners leaving
under this system would be eligible for rehabilitation (with luck)
the outside instead, in an environment where it might be more
[*I am not taking a position on the popular view that normal
prison life is too soft or too harsh; I'm simply taking it as a