Public: Prison: Work
Puzzle Prison   (+57, -1)  [vote for, against]
Sentences measured not in years, but in square feet

The court fell silent as Judge Thwackemanangem returned to give his verdict. He fixed a look of stern severity on the wretched defendant and intoned his decision: "Geoffrey Felon, you have been found guilty of serious crimes that I can't be bothered to go into now. Suffice to say that I have no choice but to impose a large custodial sentence. I therefore sentence you to 27 square feet, of double-sided baked-beans. With no edges! Take him down."

The people in the court-room gasped at the severity of the sentence, all except one man, a visitor from another country who was baffled by proceedings. He turned to the Clerk of Exposition standing next to him and demanded, "Now look here, what's this all about? Prison sentences are measured in years, or months, not square feet. What's going on?"

The Clerk of Exposition eagerly explained: "Nowadays Sir, we don't measure prison sentences by time. When a convict arrives at the prison, he is issued with a cell to work in, and a large tub full of jigsaw pieces. He must stay in the prison until he has fully assembled the jigsaw. In this poor chap's case, that'll be quite a while! The advantage of this is, it teaches the criminal a valuable lesson. You see, it's only through learning perseverance, patience and self-discipline that the prisoner can complete his sentence. Rather than sitting around smoking crack and making shivs like they used to, the prisoners develop their inner selves and emerge as changed men. Bright-eyed! Keen of mind! And with a passionate loathing of jig-saws. Yes Sir, the Puzzle Prison has transformed the penal system!"
-- spacemoggy, Nov 18 2004

A hard 9-piece jigsaw http://members.trip...catchers/jigsaw.htm
[hippo, Nov 18 2004]

[mihali, Nov 18 2004]

(?) Baked beans, 550 pieces.
[jutta, Nov 18 2004]

(?) Walkng On Glass
Worth a read, really. [saker, Nov 18 2004]

(??) Story Minute by Carol Lay http://www.waylay.c...ics/391-Prison.html
Very similar - one of my favorite comics! [yef, May 04 2005]

A three-dimensional interlocking croissant puzzle for you.
-- hippo, Nov 18 2004

Prison, no matter how unpleasantly it is configured, will always appeal to some sick subset of society. While recidivist robbers and the like may be horrified by the prospect of tiling one hundred and twenty seven thousand almost identical slices of cardboard, this is the sort of 'punishment' that will have cash strapped grannies beating up children and swearing at priests, attracted as they will be to a life of three square meals and endless puzzles.

Perhaps the best way to minimise the appeal, such as it is, is to ensure that the image in the punishment jigsaw is as repellent to the detainee as possible.
-- calum, Nov 18 2004

For life sentences, one piece is missing.
-- FarmerJohn, Nov 18 2004

awesome idea but i don't understand how the baked beans fit.
-- benfrost, Nov 18 2004

Hardest one I've ever seen was nothing but pop corn. <shudder> I'm innocent I tells ya!
-- 2 fries shy of a happy meal, Nov 18 2004

reminds me a little of the movie "cube", where the prison itself is one big puzzle. link.
-- mihali, Nov 18 2004

talking about baked beans, I don't remember them eating in that cube!
-- po, Nov 18 2004

po, i'm sure you realise this, but i was talking about the "puzzle" part, not the "beans" part!
-- mihali, Nov 18 2004

yeah, I know. but it worried me that they were starved as well as confused and well, a lot of them (look away now if you didn't see the film)...dead!
-- po, Nov 18 2004

Hmm...27 square feet, assuming square pieces of 1" per side, that's 3888 pieces. No identifiable picture elements or sides, so you have to check each piece and side. Assume it takes one second to see if any piece matches another, and that by chance you'll find a match halfway through the pile.

you'll be there for thousands of years.
-- Freefall, Nov 18 2004

Well, it WAS a heinous crime.

I like it.
-- shapu, Nov 18 2004

Freefall, I can't help but think you're two or three orders of magnitude off for a real human puzzle solver, at least as long as one piece only fits in one place. Placing the first piece takes 2 1/2 hours on average, but the job gets easier as larger parts form, and any kind of sorting radically cuts the time. So, I'd probably prefer 27 square feet to a two year sentence.

I initially thought this would be a crossword puzzle sentence, and you'd have to enter the solution into a lock on the door or something.

Yeah, cube is a bit of a B horror movie classic. A lot of the puzzles there center on not being sliced up and killed very graphically. Even if your kids really, really like puzzles, this is not a movie you want to bring them to.

[saker, quoting Banks and centuries of Zen koans:
// What happens when an immoveable object is met by an irresistible force?

I imagine they'd be friendly, but, due to their radically different everyday experiences, wouldn't have much to talk about. Something like this:
"Hey hey hey! It's the immovabelster!" - "Force."
(They do the fist-against-fist handshake that marks both of them as part of the hip young set who do fist-against-fist handshakes.)
"Did you grow your hair out? You look different!"
"No, not really. Moss, maybe?"
"No, I know. You're no longer wearing glasses!"
"Oh yeah, yeah ... I had that, that laser surgery thing done.
Worked really well for me, you know, I do a lot of reading, it really is a great way to escape.
So, force?, the jewel heist in the paper today - you got anything to do with that?"
"Heh. Yeah, you know me. Still can't resist a good solid sheet of Lexane.
Listen, I have to head out. But maybe we can do lunch?"
"Yeah, I'd like that."
The immovable object makes an ironic "call me" gesture with spread-out thumb and pinkie, and realizes too late, as the irresistible force has already sped around a corner, that it really meant e-mail.]
-- jutta, Nov 18 2004

Iain M. Banks sort of baked this in "Walking on Glass" [link]. Still, I like. What happens when an immoveable object is met by an irresistible force? +
-- saker, Nov 18 2004

+ I like the general idea of giving the inmates some task they must complete to be released so they can focus on that rather than simply being bored and learning from all the other inmates to become better criminals. I'm not sure if solving jigsaw puzzles is exactly the right task though.

People's jigsaw puzzle solving skill varies greatly. There might be some prisoners who end up spending way more time than they should behind bars even though they are working diligently on their puzzles. There may be others who can solve them much faster than others, so they won't spend enough time in prison.

What happens when the sadistic jail warden comes in and takes apart the puzzle of an inmate who was almost finished, or steals one of the pieces?

It seems like you'd need some way to verify that the puzzles were put together correctly.

Still, it's probably better than the current system.
-- scad mientist, Nov 18 2004

I've got to go with Jutta regarding the actual time it would take, but imagine working on a puzzle that way for say 12 hours a day 7 days a week for more than a year. I think I'd go insane.
-- scad mientist, Nov 18 2004

I spent entirely too much time trying to pronounce that judge's name.
-- yabba do yabba dabba, Nov 18 2004

//Iain M. Banks sort of baked this in "Walking on Glass//
Strange to relate that I found myself walking in central London the other day from the BBC in Great Portland St and I was still wearing my Hard Hat having forgotten to remove it. I am only relieved that Mr Banks didn't appear asking "Where's your fewking beer crate".
-- gnomethang, Nov 18 2004

I, too, was expecting some kind of maze-like prison.
-- RayfordSteele, Nov 19 2004

So this guy is sitting around at government expense working a jigsaw puzzle after looting the pensions of ten thousand employees. Doesn't seem right to me. Bring back flogging.
-- hangingchad, Nov 22 2004

This idea is the gem at the heart of a fine high science fiction tale. I can picture it as an episode of the Outer Limits. Each convict slaving away at their puzzles. The wrongly convicted hero finishes his in 10 days. Instead of being released, he is given another, harder puzzle, with a large cell to hold it. He finishes in under a month. He is brought to a new cell, which contains only a stack of lucite rods. This time, he has a cellmate...
-- bungston, Nov 22 2004

Thanks for all the croissants and kind comments, everyone. Quite amazed that this got the reception it did. Goes to show, you can just never tell what's going to fly and what's going to bomb in this place.
-- spacemoggy, Nov 23 2004

Also, in another Banks Novel "the Player of Games", but with a more serious treatment. The inmate is tasked with finding their way out of a puzzle / maze with varying difficulty depending on their crime. Required making moral decisions to escape, in theory favouring the morally correct versus the nasties.

In fact, the system was corrupt in the novel. So pretty relevant for us, I think.
-- neuro, Nov 14 2005

In theory I like the Cube prison idea, but doesn't it mean that the smartest, most devious convicts are released early? Is that a good idea...?
-- rubyminky, Nov 15 2005

Maybe the puzzle should remind the convict of their crime, to induce guilt in them. Like the battered face of the victim, or the distraught relatives at the funeral....
-- Minimal, Nov 15 2005

30-square feet... brown cardboard side up! No edges!

-- SuiGenerisKitten, Nov 16 2005

erm. a 3D 1000x1000x1000 Suduko puzzle.
-- neilp, Nov 16 2005

In a different parallel universe this is definantly so.
-- quantum_flux, May 14 2008

Wow! I laughed so hard just now.

"Double-sided baked-beans. With no edges!"

Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

I do enjoy the idea of a puzzle-based prison, but it seems too easy for a clever criminal to escape. Maybe, in order to escape, the convict needs to save some people, stop some murderers, and do community service. All without violence, or you start over in a different set of tasks.
-- TahuNuva, May 15 2008

I remember seeing a puzzle that was completely solid white.
-- devnull, Jul 20 2008

[edit]You need to do an IQ test to make the puzzling results more acurate.[/edit]
-- xxobot, Sep 12 2008

random, halfbakery