(Inspired by SpaceBlog Alpha)
Roses are red, and violets are blue, but if we go to space, we need a prison, or two? Despite all of the glorious wonders of visiting the worlds that dot our star system, one regrettable custom we will need to duplicate on other worlds are prisons.
Space is not for the faint of heart, and with the dangers of radiation and asteroids already facing future colonists, adding violent offenders to the list may make living off world less desirable.
With the recent case of a solar citizen attempting to kidnap and possibly murder a rival, future explorers may want to consider off site penal colonies as a way to maintain order in an already dangerous universe.
Penal colonies are nothing new to our species, something Australia can easily testify about. Australia was distant enough to prevent ex-cons from returning, yet within reach for the British empire. But where would future Earth, Luna Maria, and Martian citizens place their space prisoners at? On undesirable locations of course!
Located less than 60 million kilometers (or 36 million miles) from the Sun's surface, Mercury makes an excellent spot for a penal colony. With temperatures approaching 427o Celsius, those imprisoned on the surface (or below it) would be highly motivated to remain within their protective biosphere.
Although this planetary Alcatraz could be quite useful for a few centuries, sooner or later this world is bound to become "desirable," which may result in its eventual colonization as a civilized world.
Another possible (an perhaps favorable) location for a prison world would be inside an asteroid. Although our solar system is filled with many valuable asteroids, most of these space rocks are made up of a Carbonaceous material which holds little value for miners and explores.
Since these asteroids generally lie near the outer rims of the asteroid belt, their isolation away from planetary systems could serve as useful prisons to house our most dangerous minds.
Despite being a more extreme choice, carving out jail cells on a enormous comets (called Centaurs) could possibly serve humanities interest as well. Many of these large comets do not enter within the inner solar system and their isolation away from major systems may make them prime locations for future colonists, especially for residents of lunar gas giants.
Although an on site prison might be cheaper, the chance of prison breaks and escapes alone might put any nearby habitation on edge. A penal colony may serve a communities long term interest by not only deterring other crimes, but also protecting the colony from immediate acts of vengeance.
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