A major plot point of my story that's been bugging me for a while has me wondering what exactly the (specifically American) prison system could and would do to deal with the fact that the entire prison population suddenly has superpowers, and I was wondering if I could get some help with this.
A quick summary of how powers work in my story:
Everyone 13 or older has a brand on their arm that contains four circles on it. Every week, on Saturday, at 12:00 PM EST, one of those circles fills up with a magic rune that grants them a new supernatural power.
Everyone gets the same rune per week, and once all four circles are filled, the rune in the fourth slot is overwritten with the next week's power when it arrives, and if you want to keep it you have to switch it with a rune in another slot (you can do this with your mind, and there's no way for anybody else to affect the slot order of your powers).
In addition, everyone who was old enough to have a brand when this first started had two free, impossible-to-delete powers granted to them permanently: one that roughly doubles their strength, and one that lets them heal any injury and regrow any lost body part, in a time range going from an hour to a week depending on severity.
Now, the biggest problem this presents to running a prison is the fact that it means that at that time every Saturday, every person on Earth, including the entire prison population, is going to get a new power, and nobody has any way of predicting what that power will be. And that's the real issue: what are they going to do if one week the unknown godlike entity giving out these powers decides everyone should be able to teleport, or walk through walls, or fly?
For the first six months this does not happen, as the mysterious entity seems to have a somewhat low-fantasy design philosophy when it comes to how powerful the powers are. To give some examples:
- The ability to temporarily sacrifice access to another rune to summon an animal familiar
- No longer needing to sleep
- Wall clinging (this one is a close call to be sure)
- Opening a hammer space portal to a 6' x 6' x 6' container that nonliving objects can be stored inside
- Super hearing
But eventually a week comes when a bunch of new powers are given out all at once (even expanding the brand from 4 circles to 6 and giving out two new permanent powers as well) that appear to have been specifically designed to shatter social order and, among other things, get every single criminal out onto the streets again.
But what would they do before the effort to keep prisoners in prison ultimately fails? What changes would or could be made to prison protocol to at least attempt to deal with inmates with super powers, and what possible added measures could be taken to future-proof a prison against potentially jailbreak-abetting powers they have no way of being able to predict?