Biotechnology could let us extend convicts’ lives indefinitely


Sentencing a criminal to 1,000 years in an artificial hell may one day become a reality.

At least, that is the claim of scientists at Oxford University who have been exploring controversial technologies that could extend human life.

They say billions are being invested in techniques that could mean the cruellest criminals will be kept alive indefinitely in condition befitting their crime.

According to their research, prison firms could also develop drugs that make time pass slowly, making an inmate’s sentence feel like an eternity.

Last year, a team of scientists led by Rebecca Roache began exploring technologies that could keep prisoners in an artificial hell.

‘Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying,’ Dr Roache told Ross Andersen in Aeon magazine.

Dr Roache highlights what she describes as the ‘laughably inadequate’ sentence of 30 years in prison for Magdelena Luczak and Mariusz Krezolek.

The pair were convicted of murdering Luczak’s four year-old son, Daniel, who was beaten, starved and tortured before his death.

On her Practical Ethics blog, Dr Roache notes that Luczak and Krezolek will receive the humane treatment that Daniel never did.

‘They will, for example, be fed and watered, housed in clean cells, allowed access to a toilet and washing facilities, allowed out of their cells for exercise and recreation,’ she writes.

Turning to human engineering as a possible solution, Dr Roache looks at the idea of life span enhancements so that a life sentence in prison could last hundreds of years.

‘Dr Aubrey de Grey, co-founder of the anti-ageing Sens research foundation, believes that the first person to live to 1,000 years has already been born,’ she said.

‘The benefits of such radical lifespan enhancement are obvious – but it could also be harnessed to increase the severity of punishments’. Continue reading

News category: Features.