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The Next-Generation Detention Center (The AI Prison)

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jnikola May 25, 2021
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The Introduction

Prisons are supposed to be a punishment for the lawbreakers, but facts speak for themselves:
  • homeless people sometimes do a crime just to be sent to prison where they will have 3 meals a day and a warm shelter
  • famous people, politicians, tax offenders, and similar often experience milder sentences (TV, 3 meals a day, personal service)
  • prison guards often accept bribes, sexual favors to smuggle weapons and other items
  • some countries have problems with handling a huge number of offenders
  • offenders are often put all together without proper categorization and consequently, you have a serial killer and a shoplifter sentenced under the same imprisonment conditions
My idea is to remove the human factor from the prisons. Police would drop off a person inside an entrance room and everything else is on the prison AI. On the one hand, some experts say that inmate relations with guards have a positive effect on an individual's rehabilitation . On the other hand, humans take bribes, smuggle weapons, talk, give information, favor and act biased accordingly, and prisoners often communicate with the outside world with guards as middlemen. What if we built an AI-guided prison/detention center?

The System

The prison system would be divided in three main systems:

The Prisioner Care
This segment of a system would take care of the incoming prisoners. It would scan all the prisioners's files, social networks, the internet and other sources to gather all the information needed for the proper categorization. It would even send email to ask hospitals, companies and other facilities for the missing data. The prisoner would then be categorized and put under the appropriate individually-talored detention program. Depending on the type of the program, the serial killer would be completely cut out of the world, while a student shoplifter would be allowed to continue the education under the restricted terms. The same part of the system would keep track of the prisioner's health, behaviour, improvement and release dates. It would communicate with the prisoner according to the program, to speed up the rehabilitation.

This is the part where many psychologists, doctors, lawyers and other professionals would help to taylor the best approach to achieve maximum recovery, while not breaking any human rights. The prison shouldn't be a general imprisonment facility, but a dynamically changing recovery environment tailored to an individual.

The Internal and External Security
In this part of the system, we would see the biggest difference compared to the existing prisons. With no guards and fully automatic facility, there would be no room for mistakes. The building would be designed to allow free movement of the prisoners, by keeping them safe at all times. If a car can drive alone in busy streets, several hundred cameras, sensors and automatic doors can keep the prison safe and sound.
The special segment of security would be dedicated towards the external threats such as cyber attacks or physical intruders trying to invade.

The Kitchen, Services and Maintenance
Third part of the system would take care of water, meal preferences, sewage (faeces) and maintenance of the prison facility. When the system detects a broken pipe, it automatically find a solution. If no solution is available before the prisioner's human rights are disturbed, human factor jumps in.

The Architectural Solution

As many experts already discussed , new architectural solution would be required, especially in the case of the high-tech facility like proposed above.
I imagine a skyscraper prison with an entrance room, kitchen, many floors with cubical cells with or without windows and integrated system/server all over the building. It would have multiple cores, back-up servers and fully automated meal delivery. Communication with the outside world or the inmates would be allowed only through the screen inside the cell, which would also wake up the prisoners, guide the workouts and therapies, show statistics, etc.

What are the benefits?

Less space, more security, better categorization of the prisoners, controlled personalized cell environment according to the punishment, personalized approach towards each prisioner and consequently, better rehabilitation efficiency.

What do you think?
What could be the biggest problem of the proposed detention center?
How could we ensure that people DON'T LIKE this prison, but benefit from it?


Creative contributions

Virtual reality prisons

Spook Louw
Spook Louw May 25, 2021
Perhaps another way to integrate technology into correctional systems would be through VR.

If the technology advances far enough (it seems to be on track to getting there soon) prisoners would be able to serve their sentences in isolation without experiencing the negative psychological effects.

There might even be an argument that spending more time in an idyllic virtual reality could be better for their rehabilitation than spending every day in the dreary, cold confinements of prison. I realize that prison is not intended to feel like a holiday, I'm just suggesting that a more positive environment could aid rehabilitation.

The problems I foresee with this idea are:
  1. The cost of the technology to the state. One would have to think that an investment like this would be more justifiable in schools, hospitals or old-age homes.
  2. Prisoners are often not in the mental state to be able to think of what benefits them, they might just break the hardware or even use it as weapons.
  3. They would still require the same amount of space and time for exercise, so even if everyone was kept in solitary for most of the day, they would need to be able to move around at some point.

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jnikola3 years ago
I was thinking about the same thing! What I found ideal was sort of a "VR helmet" that would allow a sentenced person to stay at home, but with totally controlled sight and hearing. It would live in its own world, his home would become a prison cell and he would follow a strict rehabilitation plan. The problems, though, are real.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
Imagine the prisoner's family and friends being able to watch on a daily basis how the institution is torturing their loved one with a mandatory helmet that is designed to inflict psychological hardship... serving time in an actual prison might be easier on everyone involved.
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General comments

Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
I can imagine at least one downside from the top of my head. Solitude can traumatize or even "break" people beyond repair. When they get released from prison both the society and the released individual suffer the consequences forever.

Whoever writes the program will not experience what life feels like on the inside (human guards do). So it would become increasingly easier to psychologically break the inmates with software.
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jnikola3 years ago
Darko Savic Okay, I see from Spook Louw and you that solitude is the strongest argument against and that no virtual reality won't be enough to replace real human interaction. Would it help if the walls are transparent and the inmates see themselves but do not physically interact (just via the virtual social network, chat, or similar)?
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw3 years ago
The one problem I foresee is that there would be no one to protect the prisoners being attacked by other prisoners. Unless everyone is put in isolation (which is against the law as far as I know), prisoners would interact with each other, which means there will be opportunities for them to hurt each other.
I'm also not sure how things like prisoner meals, rehabilitation classes and general order would be implemented without some form of human involvement.
I do agree that many, if not most of the problems that arise in prisons can be attributed to mismanagement, but theoretically speaking, if prisons could be managed better with AI, then why would the same not be true for schools and governments?
I do like the idea though, and I'm sure AI's involvement with prisons is bound to start growing in the relatively near future.
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jnikola3 years ago
Spook Louw Thank you for your feedback! Yes, this idea did not include any physical social interaction between the inmates. The communication between them would be completely virtual, like a prison social network. It's similar to what we have been experiencing during the quarantine but restricted (no free communication except at a specific time), long-term, and rehabilitation-oriented. Some segments of this can be seen in the show "The Circle".

Concerning the fact that isolation is illegal, yes, we could have some problems here. But if we take into account that governments executed forced quarantine/isolation recently and people still felt connected through social media and video calls, I am sure the law will adapt to modern circumstances and start to consider online hangouts similarly to real physical contacts.
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