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Alternatives to Capital Punishment/Life Imprisonment in a Superhero setting


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So,in my last major campaign setting, set a bit forwards in time and technology, society had decided to abolish both the death penalty and "life" imprisonment(people have extended lifespans, so it became wildly impractical to lock people up that long).  Instead, the maximum term of imprisonment is around 50 years(25 base, plus getting denied parole every 5 years for the next 25).  What to do with criminals beyond that point?  A number of options were developed:

1) Voluntary Behavior Modification Treatment: essentially a high tech version of "psychic surgery": the criminal is implanted with inhibitions against unlawful acts and with a general impulse to be a "good citizen".  The treatment isn't perfect, but generally recidivism among those treated is pretty low.  There are ethical objections, of course, partially offset by the voluntary nature of the treatment and by efforts to refine the treatments to be as narrowly tailored as possible.  B-Mod, as it is called, is not permanent and may require periodic checkups and retreatments.  

2) Depowering: Depending upon the nature of the criminal's superpowers(and assuming their refusal of other options), the criminal may be subject to depowering, assuming it is technically feasible to do so.  A process strips away their powers, and if impermanent the subject may be required to return periodically to "extend" the depowering.  After a sufficiently long period of "good behavior", the subject may be able to petition to have their powers restored.

3) Exile: Kind of an "extreme" form of deportation, the criminal agrees to be sent outside the jurisdiction of the holding authority, sometimes even beyond the bounds of the solar system(!).  Violation of exile will result in the subject being treated as an active, violent and dangerous threat and initial response tailored accordingly(i.e., returning from exile is nearly suicidal in practice).  

4) Extraordinary Public Service--the criminal's sentence is reduced or expunged, in exchange for which the criminal engages in "extraordinary public service" for the government in question, embarking on extremely dangerous missions (e.g., defending the planet from an alien invasion, taking down a dangerous madman with weapons of mass destruction, etc.).  Not all criminals will qualify for this option(a "Joker" type most likely would not, for example).  

5) Involuntary Commitment--this option is generally disfavored, but if a criminal is adjudicated to remain a threat to themselves or others, and has refused all other options, a handful of facilities designed to accommodate the superpowered "criminally insane" exist.  Even here, indefinite lifetime commitment is disfavored.  

 

What options exist in your worlds? 

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Most settings I play in tend towards the standard Life Sentence and yes, Death penalty if need be for the most egregious crimes which makes my answer a little less fun.

 

However, I have played in some settings that were less standard and run some too. Option number 4 there is pretty typical as it can be used for some exciting interactions where PCs can try to help reform their former enemies or the like  The Authorities ask the PC to lead these villains on a small mission as a supervisor and watch the RP  fly. Some make the change, some don't, and the PCs can put those social skills and roleplaying quality speeches to work. 

 

For number 3, I actually did have a storyline where villains were put on a Martian Prison Colony of sorts, but that backfired when 'Baron Von Evil Mind' (Not his real name) took over the place and turned it into his own launching point complete with super powered army to attack the Earth. I also had a flip side storyline where  One of the Governors of the V'hanian Empire decided to dump several of his criminals into the Champions universe, hundreds of them, some with powers. 

 

For the criminally insane supervillains, there are institutions that work on finding the right medications and treatments to help them regain sanity but the program  has obviously had mixed results and is quite the political football on top of it.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, death tribble said:

Stronghold came up with one version that I had not thought of beforehand and that was hot sleep. Menton was one of those who underwent that.

I think that was for villains too dangerous to keep even in upgraded cells, so they put them into what would be more or less an induced coma for the duration of their incarceration.

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does it really matter?
If the GM wants the villain to return  the Villain will return unless the Heroes kill the Villain and keep the body in an extra- dimensional vault
even then it was an LMD ,clone, new robot body, etc if the GM wants
So all types are viable, but if the GM wants to bring that Villain back , where there is a will there is a way
I would take most as a vacation for the villain time will tell

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My campaign (currently on hiatus while I run a Traveller game online) is one in which superpowers are new. It's been just over a year since the Wild Card virus imbued 7,000 residents of Hudson City, NJ with superpowers.

 

It's been a chaotic year, to nobody's surprise. The current approach is placing captured superpowered bad guys into a single federal prison where the warden is a Wild Card. Her power is the ability to a) boost the stats of normal people to haman maximum for a period of several weeks, and b) to neutralize the powers of wild cards for an equal length of time. So she empowers the guards to Captain America-like levels (as well as a select number of federal agents) regularly, and keeps the prisoners' powers suppressed. This is, obviously, a stopgap solution as it depends entirely on her willingness and ability to continue in this position indefinitely. But it has given the authorities *some* option for holding otherwise unstoppable bad guys safely, reducing the likelihood that defeated bad guys will be summarily executed.

 

This was not planned, by the way. I introduced the warden as a lieutenant of the first campaign season's Big Bad. Her power is invisible, so the first time the PCs tried to fight after running into her, they got a nasty surprise when they were reduced to their normal pre-Wild Card stats (and no powers). The Big Bad had "the gift of gab" and had persuaded her to work with him. Once she was freed of his influence, she turned state's evidence against him in return for immunity for her own behavior--and it occurred to the authorities (i.e., me the GM) that she could be very useful to them. So now she works for them.

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