Saturday, August 23, 2014

Q&A: Why isn't there a single prison for supervillains?

After talking about incarceration, I was asked:

Why doesn't America just build a single super-villain prison and lock them all up there? Wouldn't it be better to consolidate all the anti-power technology, stronger cells, and trained guards in a single place?

There's several reasons why this isn't happening. Here they are, in no particular order.

Economic interest. Even Federal penitentiaries are located in one state or another. Congressional representatives get campaign contributions from the companies who make power-suppression drugs, from people who build prisons, and both private and public security companies who staff them. In general, the Congressmen want to keep the campaign contributions coming, but more importantly want to send pork to their state. So nobody wants to pick a single site, because there's got 50 smaller ones pouring slop into the trough. Thus, the necessary legislation won't be able to pass.

NIMBY. Short for "not in my back yard". This is the local legislature's answer to "hey can we put hundreds of dangerous demigods in your most populated city?" Seriously, there's been Congressional push-back against building wind farms in their states, because they're afraid of spoiling their view. Nobody wants a consolidated prison in their state for safety reasons, and they aren't making enough campaign contributions at the local level to sway anyone's opinion here.

Accidents and sabotage. That said, there is a legitimate argument about safety. For example, say that you're distributing 22 types of power suppressant to 100 inmates. One screw-up, one swapped bottle, one "accidentally" damaged dispenser or placebo introduced by a ringer, and a pissed-off and re-powered villain is going to rip your prison a new one.

Prison breaks. If someone put 100 villains together under a single roof, I promise the rest of us would blow the shit out of the walls and get those guys out - even if we didn't like them personally. Every active villain out there means less law enforcement resources to dedicate to you. If you do it right, those villains won't be competing with you or interfering with your capers. So overall, a stable and sizable population of free villains is compelling enough for the rest of us to take steps like this.

Thanks for the questions, and keep them coming!