In the future, convicts entering prisons would be fitted with a small microchip in their brain. This chip would monitor the individuals behavior, as well as the chemical reactions in his body. Whenever the inmate was contemplating violence, or about to do something that was against regulations, he would receive a warning message in his mind that would be visible to him. If he continued with a crime, he would receive a painful shock. The pain would increase in increments until he fell back in line. At that point, the chip would reset and tell the pain to stop, and he would go about his business. If he continued with breaking that rule, the agony would eventually kill him.

The microchip would remain in the convicts brain until he was released from prison. Those who are released on parole would have the chip removed after their time was finished. People who have served their time but were still considered a potential danger to society (pedophiles, rapists, potential repeat murderers,) would remain with the chip throughout their lives. The chip would activate whenever these people felt the "urges" that caused their behavior and serve as a deterrent to future crime.

How can the American government integrate this program in a democratic nation and avoid questions of human rights violations? Does the perception of civil liberties need to change in order for this to happen? How can it convince the public that it is in their best interests?

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    $\begingroup$ worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/80833/… $\endgroup$
    – apaul
    May 31, 2017 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ Democratic nations, especially in the past few years, have done all kinds of weird stuff. The US is torturing people without trial, death squads in the Philippines, the proud nation of Turkey arrests just about anybody - please specify how this is an issue $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    May 31, 2017 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ If the chip can prevent them from repeating the act, why bothering using prisons which cost money to the tax payers? Implant the chip and set them free and free-will-less $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 31, 2017 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ I think we need to know a LOT more about this 'democratic nation' before we can answer. There's nothing requiring a democratic state to uphold early-21st-century notions of morality, after all. $\endgroup$
    – Werrf
    May 31, 2017 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby My thoughts exactly. It ought to be a cheaper alternative to prisons and, possibly, more effective. There is the possible question of whether this might constitute cruel and unnatural punishment (which is prohibited, in principle, in the civilized parts of the world) $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    May 31, 2017 at 23:40

2 Answers 2


By passing a law.

The oldest democratic country in the world (USA) and the biggest (India) both have death penalty in their legal codes. If you can kill someone legally, you surely can forcefully implant chips on their brains.

Sure, it's a human rights violation. So is imprisonment (right of free movement), or capital punishment (right of life). Any penal sentence is, by definition, an infringement on human rights. It's intended.

  • Tell the non-convict populations things like "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." Criminals knew what they were getting into, right? The justice system has so many safeguards and technicalities that only bad guys ever go to prison, anyway.
  • Make the chip entirely voluntary. Of course those inmates who do not volunteer will stay in solitary confinement 24/7, they're obviously too dangerous to let them into the general population.
  • Set the normal sentence for any sort of crime absurdly high, under the assumption that it is just the initial bargaining position for a plea arrangement. Most or all pleas include the convict volunteering for the chip.
  • Even for convicts already sentenced, a chip could be precondition of parole. Any convict who refuses doesn't get a hearing.

Clarification: Of course I do not believe that the justice system is reliable or that the choices presented here are voluntary. The OP asked how a fictional government would justify those acts, and I presented patterns that would be abused.

In my opinion, a system where plea bargains are the default option is a gross miscarriage of justice.

  • $\begingroup$ If only that were true. The state defines crime, hence criminals are people who do things the state doesn't like, even if it's protesting genocide, for instance. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    May 31, 2017 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman, see my edit. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Jun 1, 2017 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. My point was more toward any reader who might take the first point literally, The justice system has so many safeguards and technicalities that only bad guys ever go to prison, anyway. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Jun 1, 2017 at 9:43