For a given definition of "viable", yes this system will work. But it will only work if, in your alternate-history world, we change just about everything about the moral & ethical history of the West, starting with the extirpation of Christianity and all its sequellae.
In order for abandoning fellow human beings upon an entirely desolate and adverse landscape with no survival tools and presumably no guards, no housing, no amenities and no hope for outside assistance, the mindset of your alt-Americans & alt-French has to be one of extreme moral, ethical and cultural depravity and dehumanisation the like of which Messrs Hitler & Stalin would find constitutionally revolting. (At least these two "governments" built some kind of lodging for their undesirables! As far as I can tell, you propose nothing of the sort.)
That leaves us with a strict economic equation, and I believe that your proposed system will in fact constitute a net per convict savings of hundreds of millions each year in the alt-USA.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, incarceration costs an average of more than £31,000 per inmate, per year, nationwide. In some states, it's as much as £60,000. So, let's call the basic figure £45,000 per year per convict.
ABC News a couple years back reported that 206,268 people were serving life sentences or sentences of sufficient duration that the prisoners would likely die in prison.
Net cost: £9,282,060,000.oo per year.
Under your proposed system of exile, the cost is much reduced.
Expedia.com says I can get a round trip ticket from JFK to Iqaluit Airport (in Nunavut) for about £2,000.oo, so call it £1,000.oo for each of your guests of the State. Would suggest perhaps a military~police escorted flight in stead, non-stop from JFK to Ellesmere landing strip might be a better option. Just stop the plane, pop open the back door and shove everyone down the gangway. Bring up the door and thunder on down the runway.
Costs per convict: £500.oo for the flight + £20.oo for a loosely knit jumpsuit + £5.oo for disposable wrist & ankle ring components for use in-flight = £525.oo, one time cost per exiled convict.
Charged against the convict's estate or assets and the basic cost to the State = $0.oo.
When implemented, the first year cost will be £108,290,700.oo. 400 to 500 flights will be required in order to dispose of all convicts currently incarcerated. Thereafter, the total number of convict deportees will be reduced dramatically. (In the Federal system, not even 200 life sentences are handed down in a year. One flight per month should be more than sufficient for the State at large.)
Benefits of your proposal are several:
- Out of sight, out of mind. You can't get much more out of sight than an inhospitable Arctic island where Summer temperatures rarely get much above freezing.
- The local populations of polar bears and arctic wolves will be (slightly) better fed. In fact, look for semi-permanent populations of large predators to inhabit the neighbourhood surrounding the landing strip.
- Reduced overall costs: reduced need for maximum security prisons coupled with the lack of costs associated with appeals (there obviously will be no appeals) equates to billions of dollars saved, even taking into account sorting current maximum security prison employees into jobs training programmes and different lines of work.
Detriments to your proposal are non-existent:
- In this culture, there are no moral or ethical roadblocks preventing the immediate implementation of your proposed system.
I can guarantee that NO convict deportee will ever be able to make it back to anything like civilisation. Ellesmere Island is about 500 miles long, rocky with sparse vegetation, unfriendly wildlife (wolves, polar bears, musk oxen, caribou), no infrastructure and no opportunity for agriculture. You provide your convict deportees with no tools, though I assume they will have some kind of Bureau of Punishment issued jumpsuit. You obviously don't care about their welfare, which is indicated by a First World culture that does not value human life at all. The chances of a convict deportee wearing nothing more than a light jumpsuit and slippers walking 500 miles with no food, no water in a hostile & cold environment to the southern coast have to be extremely tiny. Almost nil.
If one should arrive at the coast, he will be greeted by a twenty mile swim through the frigid waters of Baffin Bay down to Devon Island, a fifty mile trek across that island and a fifty mile swim to Baffin Island... The point is, no one (who is not a special forces trained super-soldier and who grew up off-the-grid and is a specialist in surviving Arctic conditions) can even hope to endure the trek half way to civilisation! Keep in mind that most of your convicts will be ordinary street thugs, domestic violence & sexual deviants who also commit murder, burglars who also commit murder. Basically, your average urban low-life scum with no Arctic wilderness survival skill set.
Can some survive on their island prison? That's a different question, but it may just barely be possible for some individuals to survive. For a time...