Hugh Pickens DOT Com 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 sentence 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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