Tag Archives: penal transportation

Res publica and corrupt public officers

In classical republican thought the duty of public officers is to promote the public good or general interest. When public officers use their positions to promote their own interests instead of those of the public at large, then republicans will speak of corruption.

To put straight forward: corruption is the abuse of public office for private gain at the cost of the public good.

Corruption has many forms, the bribery of civil servants – common in many parts of the world – is probably one of the most well-known forms. Another common type of corruption is the embezzlement of public funds by government officials.

In ancient Athens people who were suspect of being potential usurpers, could face ostracism – i.e. (temporary) exile from the polis. The idea behind this was that by removing such persons, they would not be a threat any longer.

In our opinion public officers who have been convicted for corruption should be punished with deportation to a penal colony. Additional their property should be confiscated, also they should be striped from their right to vote and hold public office.

How life would look like in a Penal Colony

Previously we have argued in favour of sending dangerous criminals to penal colonies, where the criminals have to stay but are further free to do what they want. In this post we have a closer look on what life would look like there.

First the colony itself has to be designed. A small space habitat as the Stanford torus designed for about 10,000 people, seems to be suitable to serve as a penal colony. There will be some non-convict staff, but since the convicts are not supposed to be under 24/7 supervision as in normal prisons, the number of guards can be kept low. It suffices to control the entrée and exit gates of the colony, in order to prevent escape.

Most staff would consist of medical and paramedic personal and probation officers. But the non-convict stuff should be no more than 25% of the total number of residents. Instead most of the services should be provided by the convicts themselves. For instance some convicts could get a barber’s license and provide hair cuts to other criminals, hence there will be no need for hiring non-convict barbers.

A part of the colony will be reserved for agriculture, and plots of agricultural land will be given to some convicts for the purpose of growing food for the colony’s residents. This will reduce the need of importing food, and hence saves public funds. Agricultural surpluses will be exported in order to cover the expenses of the colony.

Other convicts will be employed to run the shops in the colony, or in the waste management department. But importantly all employment of convicts is done voluntarily, because forced labour is generally less productive. However, taking up some employment will increase the likelihood of being eligible for parole.

Besides employment the convicts will need accommodation. Our suggestion is to house them in simple residential containers, which could look like this one. And here we have a picture of how the interior might look like. Though the floor plan of such container has some similarities with a prison cell, the main difference is that in this case the convicts are not locked op in their containers and are allowed to leave it at any time. Since the convicts are supposed to prepare their own meals, each container will have a cooking unit.

For those who think this treatment is “soft”, recall that everyone sentenced to penal transportation has to stay in the colony for at least fifteen years, during which they are isolated from their friends and family (given the remote location of the penal colony, visits are almost out of the question). And a person condemned to this penalty, has to live among people who have proven to be dangerous criminals. Further parole is not guaranteed, but is at the full discretion of the government.

Voluntary castration for sexual offenders?

In the comment section of our last post on indefinite sentencing, a few regular our commenters made several suggestions for the penal system of space settlements. One suggested that criminals serving an indefinite sentence should be given the opportunity to volunteer for medical experiments, another person argued for the reintroduction of exile. Fortunately for him, we have discussed the concept of penal transportation earlier on this site.

Penal transportation is a kind of exile, and the system of penal transportation we have proposed we combine the idea of indefinite sentencing with exile. In that post we also argued that certain sexual offenders are among the persons who need to be isolated from society.

The primary reason for sending sexual offenders to a penal colony is to prevent them from re-offending, but in case of these category of criminals there might be an alternative: voluntary castration. With castration we mean surgical castration. In countries as Germany and the Czech Republic it is a common practice to offer sexual offenders to undergo surgical castration in return of a reduce sentence. According to Czech authorities this practice is quite effective as almost none of the castrated convicts committed further crimes.

Our proposal is simple: if someone is convicted of a serious sexual crime and therefore sentenced to penal transportation, the convict is offered the choice between either surgical castration or serving an indefinite sentence in a penal colony, with the latter option being the default choice. Just as in the case of using prisoners as medical test subjects, no criminal will be forced to get castrated. Of course, proper regulations have to be devised to ensure the voluntariness of this choice.

A common objection to the idea of voluntary castration is that it’s unfair to female sex offenders. However, we can easily rebut this particular objection. First, most sexual offenders are male. Second there’s a female equivalence of castration, it’s called oophorectomy, the removal of a female’s ovaries.

According to Wikipedia oophorectomies have a multiple negative effects upon a women’s overall physiology. This includes the increased risk of osteoporosis, reduced life expectancy and an adverse effect on sexuality. Of these effects only the last is desirable. However, hormone-replacement therapy improves all of these effects, except sexuality. This because sexual desires in both male and female humans is triggered by testosterone, which is not included in a hormone-replacement therapy. Or more accurately for our purpose, it’s possible to exclude testosterone.

A more fundamental objection to castration as a method to prevent of sexual offenders to repeat their crimes, is that castration is only helpful for those sex offenders whose actions are sexually motivated. However, some sexual offenders aren’t motivated by sexual desires, but by other factors such as sadism. For those criminals castration is not an option, hence they will be transported to a penal colony.

NB. Our series on Education has been delayed due to the need for some more research and personal reasons.