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Off My Mind: What Type of Prison is Needed For Supervillains?

Ordinary jails simply are not capable of holding them.

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In the world of superheroes and supervillains, things are pretty different. Not just in terms of people having superpowers but in everyday living. Comic books often focus on the superhero battles along with the lives and events of the superheroes. We don't often see too much of a focus on what happens after the superhero battle.

As with normal crimes, there are different levels of crimes and bad guys. When a supervillain's scheme to take over the world or even to just rob a bank fails, some thought needs to be made as to what to do with them. For some villains, locking them up in a normal prison is still an option. If they relied on fancy gadgets and technology, the authorities just need to take them away. Other villains contain a deadly level of power inside them and would need to be incarcerated elsewhere.

We have seen different types of prisons over the years in comic books. When it comes to the level of crime an destruction villains are capable of, an ordinary prison is out of the question. With questions of civil rights and safety to civilians in the area, what is the best prison for supervillains?

== TEASER ==

The Raft

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If you're going to have to deal with supervillains, you're going to need a super-prison. The idea of the Raft is similar to the concept of Alcatraz or Rikers Island. Put a prison out away from the population. In the middle of the ocean or bay, if a prisoner managed to escape, surviving the icy cold waters and being able to swim to shore would not be possible, unless the prisoner had water-based powers. The Raft is also full of the latest in technology. Each prison cell is modified to deal with and neutralize any superpower the prisoner has.

The Raft is not without its faults. All it took was Electro, a villain Spider-Man had mopped the floor with time and time again, to begin a full scale prison breakout. His electrical powers were enough to put the prison out of commission. That was a pretty big flaw.

Even if there was a way to ensure someone like Electro couldn't exploit that weakness, there's always the chance that the villain imprisoned has a power that no one knows about. They might be ready for superstrength or the ability to fly but what do they do if the prisoner has another secret and deadly power?

We also saw that the Raft has some hidden cells. Sentry had himself locked away for the safety of the world but the question is, who knew he was locked up there? If someone with the power of a million burning suns could be contained without the public being aware, who knows who else might be locked up? Villains should throw away their rights when committing horrible acts but that's just not how the justice system works.

The Negative Zone/42

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During Civil War (and in the Avengers animated series), Reed Richards, Hank Pym and Tony Stark built a prison inside the Negative Zone. The only way in or out is through a portal.

If a prisoner manages to escape, they don't have a place to run to unless they are able open or get someone to open a portal for themselves.

Again, there are some problems with this. The Negative Zone is in another dimension. There should be some coordination with any of the locals. You can't just build a prison unless you can get permission. Of course no one will want a prison in their neighborhood.

What about the rights of the villain? Would this prison be permanent or a temporary solution? Will prisoners here be allowed any visitors?

Similar to the prison in the Negative Zone is the Phantom Zone. Kryptonians just dumped their bad guys here for years before Krypton blew up.

A Pym Particle Prison/The Big House

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The location of a prison is important. Human rights advocates will need to be able to inspect the prison if they feel it's necessary. People don't want prisons in their communities especially if the threat of deadly villains escaping is a possibility. Why not have Hank Pym shrink down a prison and the prisoners?

Having the prison in a smaller scale allows for easier storage and management. If the villains are able to escape, they're going to be pretty tiny. Prisons costs can be expensive as well, especially if you need to buy real estate to build it. What was the cost to build a prison in the Negative Zone? With a smaller version, you could save a lot of money on building materials. Unless the technology needed could only be built at full size.

Arkham City

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Many are playing the current Batman video game. The idea of turning half of a city into a prison might be a little extreme but there are some good ideas here. With the prisoners contained to an entire city, there is more to keep them occupied and trying escape a city might be harder than trying to escape an asylum.

Of course one of Hugo Strange's hope is some of the villains could end up killing each other off. That could make managing a vast amount of prisoners easier. If you checked on them after a while and there were less alive, that's less costs you'd have to worry about.

Of course, letting prisoners kill each other isn't acceptable.

There have been plenty of other prisons such as the Vault, the Cube, Blackgate, Iron Heights, Hell Planet and various ones in future Elseworld stories. None of them proved to be escape proof. Having a prison in another dimension seems to be the most ideal and extreme way to deal with deadly supervillains. It might call their rights into question but if they're going to threaten or try to take over the world, maybe they've already thrown their rights away. It could be costly to build a prison in another dimension. You'd have to find someone willing to work there. You'd also have to hope any inhabitants of the dimension are okay with our criminal element being dumped off there.

The only other option is the death penalty. But that never happens in comics because no one ever really dies.