April 23, 2024

Death’s too good for these crims, says Oxford bioethicist.

Some sentences could be worse than death.

An appalling case of child murder by neglect and cruelty in the UK recently resulted in 30-year jail sentences for the mother and stepfather, Magdelena Luczak, 27, and Mariusz Krezolek, 34. As Oxford bioethicist Rebecca Roache points out, many people react by calling for reinstatement of the death penalty. She has a more imaginative approach, inspired by the possibility of new technology.

Robot prison officers. An impersonal and unsympathetic robot will provide less comfort for offenders than a human warden.

Altering perception of duration: We should also consider the practical application of research into the subjective duration of time. Prisons could be designed to make the sentence maximally monotonous and protracted.

Mind uploading. The post verges on science-fiction when Roache discusses uploading prisoners’ brains onto computers. By stimulating increased brain activity, we could, she suggests, slow down their experience of time.

Lifespan enhancement. Perhaps prison authorities could take a leaf from Aubrey de Grey and give prisoners 1,000-year jail sentences.

It is hard to see how these methods avoid ‘inhumanity’. But Roache claims they may be compatible with the humane treatment of offenders.   

Xavier Symons
Creative commons