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(**, M/F, Severe, slavery, prison discipline, torture, boring)
A prison colony is described. (Approximately 2,405 words. Originally published 1998-06.)
A Report On the Amalthea Prison Colony: Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
Respectfully submitted to the Subcommittee on Humane Space Colonization Procedures on 04/17/2197 by Robert Urth, Sublieutenent 4th Class, United Nations Space Division
The following report concludes my two-year investigation into the Amalthea Prison Colony. My initial instructions were to record unbiased observations and draw conclusions as to whether the Amalthea Prison constitutes Cruel and Unusual Punishment as defined by the United States Supreme Court in 2011 and ratified by the United Nations Space Treaty of 2067. Please note that my findings are for investigatory purposes only, and my opinion has no weight in the final conclusion of the Subcommittee.
That said, I will stress that I was personally emotionally disturbed by the harsh conditions upon Amalthea. Much of what I saw would invariably be considered cruel upon Earth or in other situations. However, the world of interplanetary space is far different from Earth. It is my conclusion that the Amalthea Prison should be allowed to continue to function without interference, subject to periodic reevaluations.
EARLY HISTORYIn the latter part of the last century, as space colonization was becoming a modest commercial success, there arrived a new problem: criminal behavior. Over 10,000 people a year were immigrating to Mars and to the moons of Jupiter. This increased to nearly a 100,000 in the next decade. As more people immigrated, the screening process to eliminate the less stable among these personnel became ineffective. The U.N.S. began to receive reports of violent and disruptive behavior on the part of certain individuals. In 2108 there was the infamous hijacking and destruction of one of the Mars shuttles, the _U.N.S. Freedom_, by Hamal P. Gardner. Over 1,375 people died, including nearly 350 children.
In the wake of the Gardner incident, Mars Colony immediately instigated plans for a prison system. All shuttles were outfitted with brigs and crews were trained to deal with hostile individuals.
The prison on Mars was an utter failure. The environment on Mars was so harsh that prison was less work and more comfortable than normal living. This offended the working citizens as unfair and amused the prisoners. The Mars prison quickly grew too large to hold all the incarcerated. Escapes were so common it became a popular joke for inmates to remark that they'd "eat out tonight."
The legal and financial difficulties of maintaining the prison complicated matters. The government on Mars was split into numerous factions as to the development of the planet, and thus there was little commitment to making the prison function.
In 2128, as crime on Mars soared along with the population, Mars Governer Li Chow began a severe crackdown. He assigned one of his deputies, General James Hawshire, to establish a prison colony on one of the astroids of Jupiter. It took seven years for the plan to come to fruition. In 2135 the Amalthea Prison Colony was established. As the smallest and most useless of Jupitor's astroids, it was ideal for a prison colony.
Everything about the colony was designed to be unpleasant. The quarters were small and uncomfortable, carved out of the rock by the inmates themselves using the most primitive tools. Food was earned through manual labor, and though the food was healthy from a nutritional perspective, it was not necessarily appealing. Physical punishment were used to motivate prisoners and soon became a standard part of the routine. No wonder early inhabitants nicknamed Amalthea "Hellrock."
Initially Amalthea was used to house only male inmates. Women prisoners, few as there were, were kept separately on the original prison on Mars. Space colonization was exploding, however. The number of off-worlders were doubling every year. The prison on Mars was still a failure and women criminals were being minimally punished. In fact, it soon became the norm for organized criminals to use women as "fronts" just as many organizations on Earth in the twentieth century used to use juvenials because of the minor penalties involved. Some males underwent sex change operations on the hope that if caught they would not be sent to Amalthea.
In 2155 there was a brief attempt to introduce women to Amalthea, but the facilities were woefully inadequate for dual sexes. Despite the rigid controls, there were riots and rebellions among the prison population. The experiment ended when a group of seven women were kidnapped and taken into the men's section and gang raped by approximately two hundred men. Nearly sixty men were killed or beaten to death during the riot that instigated the event. Only one of the seven women survived the ordeal. (Sadly, a year later she committed suicide in her cell on Mars.)
In 2158 a much larger prison was built on Xana (formerly Astroid 993). It became a men's only prison and after much controversy, the smaller, harsher Amalthea was delgated for women only in 2160. Then, as today, many people felt women should not be subjected to the harsh conditions of a men's prison, but the 2161 Chamera Incident silenced all the critics.
Ganymede, the largest of Jupiter's moons, had grown to a huge industrial center of over 250,000 people. For several years there had been a series of mysterious murders where both hands of the victims had been severed at the wrists. Police were baffled as the murders seemed to have no consistency except for the missing hands. The death count rose to nearly two dozen and the case was given maximum priority. After a two-year intensive investigation the case was broken by former military pilot named Michael Tosen. The "Handless Killer" was proved to be none other than Roselyn Chamera, a popular nightclub dancer. She was a hired killer and had chosen her unique method of disfiguration in order to throw the police off the track.
In 2161 Chamera was sentenced to life imprisonment on Amalthea. When the judge read her sentence, the tough woman who had not blinked eye while murdering dozens of strangers, broke down and screamed in terror. It seemed that even the criminal held "Hellrock" in respect.
AMALTHEA TODAYToday there are over six hundred women on Amalthea (there are nearly seven thousand men on Xana). The place is brutal. The regime is strict, changed very little since the men left. Attempting to escape is death, pure and simple. Punishments are harsh, frequent, and painful. It is not a fun place.
Most punishments are physical: whippings and beatings are daily occurrences for most inmates. All guards carry broad leather paddles and use them constantly. All inmates are required to bend over and offer their naked buttocks for punishment at any time. Refusal to accept discipline is regarded as one of the most serious offenses possible. It merits the "hole" and severe daily discipline for 30 days. In the entire history of Amalthea there have only been two cases where an inmate refused discipline twice. (Interestingly, both of those were women.) The "hole" I shall describe later.
Most of the inmates seem to accept their discipline with resignment. There is little rebellion. Every day the women are physically punished by the guards. The amount of punishment is random, carefully selected by computer. Sometimes it is just a few strokes with a wooden paddle. The next day it might be a severe whipping. An inmate never knows when she rises in the morning how severe her morning "spanking" will be. (All the guards refer to discipline as spanking, though it can hardly be called that, as most of the inmates wear constant welts and bruises from their daily beatings.)
This daily routine of punishment keeps the women constantly aware of their demeaned status, and reminds them of the consequences for disobedience. Thus, in general, behavior is acceptable and punishments for cause aren't frequent, though there are always exceptions.
Minor misbehavior is dealt with instantly, with an immediate beating by a guard. An inmate might, for instance, make too much noise after lights out, or be caught talking during her manual labor period. A guard will immediately order the inmate to assume the punishment position. She must immediately obey, taking down her prison trousers and bare her buttocks for punishment, then bend over and wait for her beating. Typically such minor punishments are no more than a couple dozen hard wallops with a leather paddle, but that is totally at the guard's discretion.
More severe transactions are handled during public assemblies in the evenings. For these, the inmate is usually partially punished immediately, but informed that further punishment is to come. During the public assembly the names of any inmates needing punishment are called out. Those inmates must immediately rise and go to the podium to await their discipline.
They are stripped naked and led in front of everyone. Their crimes are read aloud, and their punishment announced. The minimum punishment is fifty strokes with the thick leather strap, but such trivial chastisement is rare. Usually the discipline is much more severe, most often 100 or 200 hundreds strokes with the strap followed by a dozen or more of the cane. The strap is designed for harsh punishment, but not to cause permanent injury. It is twelve centimeters wide and a centimeter thick. The wide face prevents cuts and bleeding and allows for extended beatings. The cane is similarly designed -- thick but very light and extremely flexible. It stings painfully and marks the flesh, but when administered properly, does not cause permanent scaring.
The public beatings every evening provide the only entertainment for the inmates. When the punishments are finished, everyone must return to their cells. Most nights there are only two or three women who require punishment, but occasionally there are as many as a dozen, and thus the assembly may take several hours to complete.
As part of this program, there are daily "contests" as well. The last inmate to finish showering, for example, is paddled in front of the others in her group. The same is true for nearly every activity the inmates perform -- arriving at meals, finishing meals, getting dressed, manual labor, returning to cells, etc. This naturally motivates inmates to complete their tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. To balance things, there are also high standards of performance. An inmate who isn't clean after her shower not only joins the tardy inmate for a sound paddling, but she must repeat her shower _and_ the paddling after everyone else has departed.
Participation in sporting events are encouraged to keep inmates fit and healthy. Inmates who do not play are assigned extra manual labor; thus most participate. Competitive sports include soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball, and softball. To motivate players, winning teams are allowed to paddle the losing teams -- the amount dependent upon the severity of the win and the significance of the game (in relation to the entire tournament).
The most severe punishment an inmate can endure is the "hole." This is solitary confinement combined with daily beatings. The inmate is stripped naked and confined to a tiny cell without lighting. Every 10 to 30 hours guards turn on an automated showering system which sprays ice-cold water on the startled inmate. Once the inmate has been washed, guards enter and proceed to thoroughly paddle, whip, and cane her bare buttocks, thighs, and breasts. Only when she is exhausted and nearly numb from the pain do the guards leave. The shower is turned on for five more minutes, and then food is left for the inmate. The entire time in the hole the inmate is kept in darkness. There is no consistency or warning of when the guards will enter. It is completely random. Thus the inmate loses all track of time and lives in constant terror during her time in the hole.
The minimum time in the hole is a week; the maximum is one month. Few inmates experience the hole more than once, and most for just the one week minimum, but nearly all claim they were left in the hole for months. That is understandable as the inmate has lost all concept of time. Extensive investigation into the claims of women inmates that prison officials violated the maximum length of time in the hole has proven groundless. It is my conclusion that further reports on this matter ought to be ignored completley.
All women are required to perform manual labor. There are several types of labor. Prison labor consists of construction, maintainence, and expansion of the Amalthea Prison Colony itself. Just as in the early days of the colony, it is the prisoners who build the prison. Other prisoners work preparing meals, doing laundry, waste disposal, etc. These tasks are considered "light" labor and only the most well-behaved women are allowed to perform them.
The majority of the prisoners perform work for corporations contracted by the prison officials. Typical tasks include circuit board or parts assembly, packaging, data-entry, and other projects unsuitable for robotic manufacturing. The workrate of the women involved is extremely high, not surprising considering the ample motivation of corporal punishment and the long hours required. Work details are 10-hour shifts, seven days a week. Once a month, women who have earned the privilege are given one day off.
Because of the low-costs associated with operating an astroid colony like Amalthea, the prison is unique in that it is nearly self-suficient. Currently it operates with just a 20% government subsidy. Once the debt incurred from the founding of the colony is paid off (mostly for the small nuclear power plant), analysts expect Amalthea to actually be moderately profitable by the year 2202.
CONCLUSIONDespite all the advances of the last century, life in space is rigorous and harsh. Communication and transporation can take months. Most colonies are self-contained, self-sufficient entities, not because they want to be, but because they have to be. A delayed transport vessel could spell doom to a colony requiring outside supplies. As UNSD Officials are still too rare for practical use, self-government is the order of the day.
It is imperative that colonies be given the freedom to implement justice that's appropriate for their method of life. Perhaps in the future, life off Earth will become more civilized and places like Amalthea won't be required. Currently, however, Amalthea serves as a severe and effective deterrent. The methods used by the Amalthea Prison Colony may not seem like justice on Earth, but in the cruel survival-of-the-fittest world interplanetary colonies, it's entirely appropriate.