Future Drugs Will Allow Prisoners To Serve A ‘1,000-Year Sentence In 8 Hours’

jail-toiletHow will the worst villains of the future be made to atone for their crimes? Aeon Magazine speaks to University of Oxford professor Rebecca Roache, who hauntingly forecasts that punishment will someday revolve around the dilation of time:

As biotech companies pour billions into life extension technologies, some have suggested that our cruelest criminals could be kept alive indefinitely, to serve sentences spanning millennia. But private prison firms could one day develop drugs that make time pass more slowly, so that an inmate’s 10-year sentence feels like an eternity. One way or another, humans could soon be in a position to create an artificial hell.

Take someone convicted of a heinous crime. There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people’s sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence.

53 Comments on "Future Drugs Will Allow Prisoners To Serve A ‘1,000-Year Sentence In 8 Hours’"

  1. Conspiracy Carrot | Mar 27, 2014 at 9:06 am |

    Cool. So when they get out after 10 years they have 1,000 years of anger, rage and mental illness under their belts. That seems better somehow.

    • Anarchy Pony | Mar 27, 2014 at 11:47 am |

      Cruel and unusual… will their empires be.

    • Sadly the prison industry, especially in the private domain, still does not see eye-to-eye with the field of Psychology and its various industries 🙁

      Source: Newest Dozois Abnormal Psychology undergrad textbook

      • The private domain in that area are only interested in money..btw! great comment you made.

    • Justice system isn’t known for their brains!! they just talk like it!!

    • ChristianDystopian | Apr 4, 2014 at 2:23 am |

      insures they will return. another bed filled. another check on the way. another kick back to pay

  2. Thurlow Weed | Mar 27, 2014 at 10:29 am |

    This makes a better scifi plot than anything else but that could have been said about things that religious cultists in Waco, Texas were subjected to during the first Clinton administration.

  3. Chaos_Dynamics | Mar 27, 2014 at 10:44 am |

    A pharmacological dictatorship right out of Stanislaw Lem’s Futurological Congress.

    Time to take your Up’n’at’m – a drug designed to counter the layers of illusion imposed by all the official drugs dispensed by the totalitarian regime.

  4. disqus_Njs8lVnwOT | Mar 27, 2014 at 11:51 am |

    Why not just go back to hanging them by their thumbs and flogging the flesh off their bodies. Or thumbscrews. Thumbscrews would be good!

  5. AManCalledDa-da | Mar 27, 2014 at 12:02 pm |

    If you gave them ten seconds of Heaven, instead, they’d turn around infinitely faster. And it wouldn’t smack of, “cruel and inhuman.”

    • Jonas Planck | Mar 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm |

      …Or more likely, they’d doing anything they could to get another dose of it…

    • InfvoCuernos | Mar 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm |

      It’ll “smack’ of something, alright.

    • Matt Staggs | Mar 27, 2014 at 9:45 pm |

      Worked for Hassan I-Sabbah’s followers.

    • Mick-Doscious | Apr 4, 2014 at 6:45 am |

      Even better, give them the 10 seconds of heaven then the second they snap out of it reintroduce them to their crimes then execute them.

  6. We don’t need time dilation drugs, we have prison rape.

    Torture makes everything better.

  7. BuzzCoastin | Mar 27, 2014 at 1:02 pm |

    1,000-Year Sentence In 8 Hours
    already exists
    it’s called school

  8. Jin The Ninja | Mar 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm |


  9. Spasmodius | Mar 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm |

    God help us all…in the future.

    • Any hope the global changes will take out most of us!..giving the rest ,other species and the planet itself a better chance!

  10. Jonas Planck | Mar 27, 2014 at 3:06 pm |

    I’m not sure prison firms make a habit of investing in their own pharmaceutical research labs, but that’s a semantic issue. Someone else would develop it, they’d buy it, taxpayers would pay for it. What everyone (including the people who made Dredd 3D) seems to be overlooking, however, is that a drug that slows time down to a crawl for the user will also have the added effect of enhancing their reaction time to superhuman levels. A user, if strong and agile enough, might be able to actually dodge bullets, even though their muscles will burn and tear in the process of doing so. Fighting a user hand to hand would be an embarrassingly one-sided beatdown for the unaugmented combatant. I’m not entirely sure who came up with the idea, but they weren’t exactly thinking it through. Moral issues aside, is it a good idea to give a prisoner superhuman levels of perception that grant them enough time to formulate a wickedly clever escape plan, the kind of plan that takes years to concoct, in mere moments? And the ability to disarm and disable guards in as much time it takes them to realize they’re being attacked? No, the first application for such drugs will be to give them to (and test them ON) soldiers. Split-second decisions are much easier when that second lasts a few hours… it gives you time to weigh all the possible options and come up with the best plan, while still leaving enough breathing room for hesitation and second thoughts, so a user could act seemingly instantly, but still have the advantage of thorough consideration and planning for whatever actions they take. And all this isn’t even taking into consideration any neurological side effects the drug might have.

    • vpaulsmithjr | Mar 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm |

      Umm, perhaps you’ve watched a few too many movies. Like a previous reply mention, their data processing wouldn’t change with it. And even if it did, dodge bullets? Really? There are many physiological limitation that this drug idea doesn’t claim to come anywhere near affecting. Just because a brain works faster, but mean muscles can contract faster. And there is a long lag between thought and movement.
      When you’re in a boring class that seems to take foreeeeever, did you reeeeally have an increased amount of thought where you had time to “formulate a wickedly clever escape plan, the kind of plan that takes years to concoct, in mere moments”? I think not. It just feeeels like a long time. That’s what they are going for.

      • VaudeVillain | Mar 29, 2014 at 1:19 am |

        While I’m not sure that I buy Jonas’ core thesis here, his dodging bullets thing isn’t really that far-fetched.

        There are people who can do it, sort of, without any particular enhancement: the bullet goes in a relatively straight line from the tip of the barrel, and that only moves as quickly as the guy holding it. Add to that the already human-visible velocities that many pistol rounds travel, and dodging (some) bullets through the use of slow-motion perception is at least plausible.

        Definitely still better off not getting shot at, of course.

        • Jonas Planck | Mar 29, 2014 at 9:37 pm |

          If getting shot at was a choice, nobody would ever get shot at. But you’re right about the physical limitations… even if there was some kind of Matrix-esque aspect to the drug’s effect, muscles would respond incredibly slowly, the air drag would feel like you were moving through tapioca pudding, joints would dislocate, ligaments would snap, tendons would tear and “frog up,” the pain would be excruciating and ultimately crippling. Perhaps that’s why we’re hearing about a penal application for it instead of a military one… someone’s already developed it, and determined that it’s too debilitating to use as a combat drug.

          • VaudeVillain | Mar 30, 2014 at 1:22 am |

            I propose that we are hearing about a penal application rather than a military one for two reasons: one is that any military application of anything even remotely “cutting edge” is artificially delayed for strictly military reasons (ie. not informing one’s enemies of one’s capabilities… a sound policy, from a martial perspective), the second that we ultimately care more (from an economic perspective) about punishing our prisoners than we do about protecting our soldiers.

            Efficacy might be relevant, or might not be.

    • Jonas Planck | Mar 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm |

      I’m so glad he never took off the helmet in that movie. If I had known it was Karl Urban before the credits rolled, it would have soured the film for me.

      • Echar Lailoken | Mar 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm |

        He is kind of a one sided actor. He was perfect in this movie though, imo.

  11. Matt Staggs | Mar 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm |

    Sometimes Disqus gets a little weird with new accounts. Sorry about that – normally I check in and run through the comments a few times a day, but I was out of the house for a family thing.

  12. That isn’t the same story.

  13. mindofsound | Mar 28, 2014 at 5:03 am |

    The fatal fallacy is the notion that imprisonment is supposed to punish the individual, rather than simply to separate them from society, and if possible rehabilitate them to be functional members of society. Any imposition of unnecessary discomfort or suffering is cruel and inhumane, and no entity has the moral right to inflict such suffering upon another.

  14. RuudVanDrijver | Mar 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm |

    Just give them magic mushrooms, 10 minutes can seem like hours… so I’m told!

  15. This isn’t too bright. The primary purpose of a prison is the protection of society from criminals. Atonement and rehabilitation are secondary considerations.

  16. TheDream Ersbox | Mar 29, 2014 at 3:49 am |

    Like this is some sort of “New” news.

  17. Jonas Planck | Mar 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm |

    Sadists have a great deal of difficulty making their sexual perversion seem palatable or acceptable, as normal people experience revulsion at the thought of torturing others for pleasure…sadists must often hide their attempts to gain fresh victims for their fetish behind a mask of outrage or “just punishment.” Many of them seem to think they can get away with inflicting intense amounts of pain and suffering if the general public thinks it’s justified for the greater good… A lot of our laws and sentencing practices have been engineered, or at least gamed, by such psychotic sadists.

    • lingonius | Apr 2, 2014 at 9:30 am |

      I have come to believe that there are perversions of thought and soul that slither through humanity. Tainting one person, who becomes motivated to behave in the same manner, and who then pass it on to another. I imagine the easiest way for this to continue is to find children who are especially susceptible to manipulation of thought and feeling.

      Truly, it is a frightening concept. Yet it would explain why such perversions of humanity continue to exist.

  18. Jonas Planck | Mar 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm |

    I don’t see how perception and thought are necessarily disconnected from one another. Tiger beetles, flies, and hummingbirds have rudimentary nervous systems that aren’t capable of abstract thought or higher reasoning as far as we know. But a fly DOES have enhanced reaction speed compared to human… ever try to swat one with your bare hands? It rarely works. You need a flat thing with low air resistance on the end of a stick to have enough leverage-enhanced speed to hit it.
    The deal is that we won’t know WHAT the effects will be until the drug itself is developed and tested. I might be wrong or right, but I think that slowing perception to a crawl would have to entail speeding up thought through some sort of neural augmentation, since thought and perception are intertwined. If thought wasn’t sped up to match perception, then how would it seem as if time slowed at all? It’s almost a philosophical question…

  19. Jonas Planck | Mar 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm |

    That’ll teach ’em to think twice before jaywalking!

  20. Guerrilla_Grodd | Mar 31, 2014 at 12:55 am |

    It will start with heinous and infamous crimes and eventually jay walkers will end up getting injected with this shit.

  21. I agree but two good posts,,pro and con giving depth!!

  22. What if their parents were married?

  23. Add to this..look at a cop car newer the better they forgot ‘To serve and Protect” on any part of their car,suv,truck! at least here in Jersey and places in Pennsy…I’ve heard same from others as well that’s what got me into looking!!..this country incarcerates the most of any other country! gee golly wonder y!!…money?????

  24. howiebledsoe | Apr 4, 2014 at 8:12 am |

    Private prisons would never go for it. No profit in keeping an inmate around for 8 hours when you can get tax dollars to make them work for free for 20 years.

  25. some criminals such as murderers, rapists, and people who continually steal a lot of money from people deserve this. You need to think what would the victim want? If you were the victim of a serious crime, I’m sure you would be satisfied w/ this.

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