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Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences 914

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Like something out of the movie Inception, Rhiannon Williams reports in the Telegraph that Dr. Rebecca Roache, in charge of a team of scholars focused upon the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment, claims the prison sentences of serious criminals could be made worse by distorting prisoners' minds into thinking time was passing more slowly. '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,' says Roache. Roache says when she began researching this topic, she was thinking a lot about Daniel Pelka, a four-year-old boy who was starved and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather.

'I had wondered whether the best way to achieve justice in cases like that was to prolong death as long as possible. Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying. And so I thought, why not make prison sentences for particularly odious criminals worse by extending their lives?' Thirty years in prison is currently the most severe punishment available in the UK legal system. 'To me, these questions about technology are interesting because they force us to rethink the truisms we currently hold about punishment. When we ask ourselves whether it's inhumane to inflict a certain technology on someone, we have to make sure it's not just the unfamiliarity that spooks us,' says Roache. 'Is it really OK to lock someone up for the best part of the only life they will ever have, or might it be more humane to tinker with their brains and set them free? When we ask that question, the goal isn't simply to imagine a bunch of futuristic punishments — the goal is to look at today's punishments through the lens of the future.'"
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Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

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  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:48AM (#46532731)

    "Thirty years in prison is currently the most severe punishment available in the UK legal system."

    No, it's not. People get 30-year minimum sentences, for instance, and there are a number of prisoners on whole-life sentences: []

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:54AM (#46532779)
    Iain M Banks takes this to the extreme in Surface Detail. You could have indefinite suffering for almost eternity - as long as your civilisation works on accelerated time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @08:57AM (#46532825)

    There is a drug called SloMo used to do something just like this.

  • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @09:22AM (#46533123)

    Her PhD is in philosophy. However, she is an associate editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics [], so we should all still be pretty worried.

  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @09:25AM (#46533157)
    Well if you look at the summary, she does not call it justice, she calls it punishment.
  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 20, 2014 @09:57AM (#46533613)

    Oh come on, this article is from a UK newspaper and is about someone at Oxford pondering the UK system of punishment. How does America even tie in?

  • Re:Ridiculous. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Primate Pete ( 2773471 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:11AM (#46533779)
    Happily, "Dr." Roache isn't an MD, she's a philosophy professor and apparently unaware of the Hippocratic Oath. That gives her substantially reduced capacity to do harm compared to someone in actual medical practice working with actual human beings.
  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @10:59AM (#46534351)

    Many countries with what I could consider "pure" rehabilitation programs spend a fraction what the US does on incarceration and have lower recidivism rates. These systems are generally run on the basic philosophy that criminal behavior that can't be fixed is a mental illness and should be treated as such, often meaning they are in fact removed from society longer than they would have been if they had simply thrown in prison. Everyone else goes through counseling, education, etc during their prison sentence. And again, at a lower cost and lower recidivism rate than we see with our punishment centered systems.

  • Inception? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @11:19AM (#46534553) Journal

    Like something out of the movie Inception...

    If you're going to use a movie reference, there's a much better one out there. The movie Dredd revolved around a new drug called 'Slo-Mo', which caused a time dilation effect in users identical to the effect described in the article.

  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Barandis ( 2717353 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @11:32AM (#46534721)

    See Table 6: Ex-Offenders and the Labor Market []

    At least according to one study, race is a big part of it. It's not the only part - level of education appears to have as big an effect - but it's clear that a black felon is much less employable than a white felon.

  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @01:00PM (#46535783) Journal

    Currently I'm traveling around SE Asia. Just about every country you go to has capital punishment for anyone trafficking in drugs. Yup, bring anything into singapore and they'll hang you by the neck until dead. Of course waiting would be cruel, they'll do it quite promptly the following friday.

    (Citation? Of course: [])

    The funny thing is, even though you would think most people would want to avoid the long drop [] I am quite often asked if I want to buy drugs.

    This to me really shows that people just are not rational enough to avoid crime no matter how harsh the punishment we mete out. Because of this, really I think the best option is to focus in on rehabilitation, and in extreme cases locking people away to protect society, because the fact of the matter is that punishment as a deterrent does not work.

  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday March 20, 2014 @04:21PM (#46537827)

    An ex-politician did the research for a BBC documentary [] - there is a simple, easy method of execution, used to humanely kill pigs in abattoirs, it's cheap, quick and requires no exotic chemicals. Asphyxia with nitrogen.

    He asked several people involved in administering the death penalty if they would consider it, and to a man, they all refused to condone the notion. Because the victim feels a few moments of euphoria before they go.

    They *want* the pain and suffering, despite the prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment" in the Constitution. The protocols are explicitly designed to be inhumane, and there is a tacit agreement amongst all those involved that they should stay that way.

  • Re: Ridiculous. (Score:2, Informative)

    by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi AT evcircuits DOT com> on Thursday March 20, 2014 @06:44PM (#46539077) Homepage

    The US had little to do with the European front compared to either the US's Asian front or compared to other allied forces (UK, France). German losses on the Russian front, the years of internal resistance and internal politics were way more damaging to Nazi Germany than the invasion by US forces.

      If it weren't for some extreme luck on the landings in Normandy and a minimal defense force (the Germans were ready to intercept at the location of the plan but due to weather they accidentally landed at less defended places that were thinned out because of the heavy German losses in Russia), the US would likely have lost right there. Heck, given the politics of the day, the US didn't intervene for years until they were on the receiving end of aggression.

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