The original article is here, which was obviously not read.
The question asked of Roache was a continuation of a thread about radical life extension, where people are expected to live 1,000 years or more, where Roache has already argued that denying convicts access to life-extending treatments would probably be considered inhumane, and also that it would be like punishing a series of completely different people for the crime of one.
The interviewer then asks:
Would it be unethical to tinker with the brain so that this person experiences a 1,000-year jail sentence in his or her mind?
To which Roache replies:
[...]there is a widely held view that any amount of tinkering with a person’s brain is unacceptably invasive. But you might not need to interfere with the brain directly. There is a long history of using the prison environment itself to affect prisoners’ subjective experience.
Through the entire piece, Roache argues for proportional and reasonable punishment, and finishes with the amazingly sensible:
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. And more importantly, we have to ask ourselves whether punishments like imprisonment are only considered humane because they are familiar, because we’ve all grown up in a world where imprisonment is what happens to people who commit crimes. 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?
I may be expecting more of Slashdotters than they're actually able to deliver, but seriously, imagine a two physical day session at a rehabilitation center that, in the criminal's mind, was a 5 virtual year punitive sentence followed by 3 virtual years of training/rehab. Costs of maintaining imprisonment and reintegration of ex-cons into society is significantly reduced. Prison "culture" is eliminated, because there's no longer any concurrency.