Discuss the challenges that the penal system faces in dealing with powered individuals. What security measures are necessary? How do you deal with individuals that may not have committed grievous crimes, but are working on devastating plots? How do you address the differences between villains who are evil vs those who may be mentally ill?
Incarceration of a convicted criminal reflects the seriousness of the crime(s) and the risk that the individual presents to the public, including other convicts. With Supers, we would simply see an escalation of the current issues, bigger prisons, thicker walls, more guards with bigger guns. Super villains may have to be sedated and put into orbiting capsules that can only controlled from the ground. And, of course, any such measure must be approved by the government, through the checks and balances that are in place to protect human rights.
For the mentally ill, I recommend viewing "One Flew Over the Coo-coo's Nest" and the even older movie "Snake Pit" The problem with mental illness is that it is a chronic condition, and frequently gets worse over time, even with treatment. If a villain can be kept stable with treatment, their human rights would demand they be allowed their freedom, until such time as it is demonstrated that they cannot, or will not, follow treatment unless kept locked up in some fashion.
The penal system is center around punishing the 'standard' person. Tracks bracelets, prison cells, even execution protocols would have to be tailored for every sort of power. The problem is, if you wish to keep guards safe and the methods humane, you would need set up the system months or even years in advance. Think about Bane in Arkham Asylum. To control Bane without killing him you need: A large supply of Venom; some highly specialized deliver/regulation equipment; multiple medical technicians, a reinforced holding cell. Even if Bane is willing to 'play nice' even a 'normal' inmate could use any of these resources (needles, drugs, hostages) to seriously hurt Asylum staff or other inmates. Add another super into the mix... Part of the reason Arkham and Blackgate have so many breakouts is what controls one prisoner can be used to boost the abilities of another. Technology to control a individual super often takes a while to develop, so you're stuck will less than optimal equipment.
Dealing with the mastermind villain is as tricky as dealing with a gangleader. The gangleader's sentence (remember judges can only punish what the courts prove) may still to allow them to run things from a minimum security cell. More surveillance and even planted spies in the prison would be needed. However none of this is foolproof or without risk. Catching them in a 'sting' is the only thing I can think off.
Before I answer the last question, I'm going to take a moment to check my 'remove-foot-from-mouth' gadget at the ready. I have views about evil and mental illness. It's complicated. Mental illness is real. The mind physically effects the brain and body. People with PTSD have a very distinct real-time MRI of their brains' activation. The reverse is also true. If a medicine raises your pulse rate, it becomes harder to control emotional stats because your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Mental illness is a two way street between 'mind' and brain/body. Now, as I mentioned back in the 1000 classes. Everybody is evil. Controlling or giving into it is what makes the difference between a hero and villain. Every villain has 'given into' evil - some slip into it, others embrace it. Most people with mental illness have the same choice to fight their inner evil or go with the flow. The only difference is the amount of environmental pressure/support they receive. Pulling from Arkham again, Zass chooses to feel the 'rapture' instead of treating people like equals. He could fight his desire, but chooses to feed it. There are a few mental illness were the person has no control of his/her actions. I have a friend with Multiple-Personality-Disorder. She truly doesn't remember what happens during an episode. However, she can choice to take meds, figure out her triggers, and work on dealing with the issues that caused the condition. She can control that.
In my mind, mental illness simply explains why a villain justifies his/her choice. What I don't think is that it 'excuses' them. Now, I do feel that villains with mental illness should be offered help to reduce things that 'pressure' their choice. However, if they aren't willing to change, they need to realize the full consequences of the next choice will be theirs to bear.
Grade: Peach berry crumble. cuz that's what i had for dessert tonight and I'm having trouble thinking of anything else. mmmmmmm
Well, you're probably not going to be able to actually contain the majority of dangerous villains due to the skills that got them there in the first place. Of course, you can do something similar to Worm's Birdcage, with its almost-literally infinite number of contingencies and no way to leave, ever. Now, in Worm, the normal villains, the local issues that might just run a drug den or something and rob a bank now and then, that's not that bad and they probably bring enough to the community in terms of publicity and tourism (Due to humanity's morbid fascination with...well, anything sufficiently morbid, really) as local 'celebrities' to allow their existence in the area. On the other hand, international murder-hobos (i.e. the Slaughterhouse Nine (the name says is all, really) who go around murdering people, and doing things to those they don't murder that is incontestably worse that death (Once again the Slaughterhouse Nine, whose crimes include trapping various people and heroes in loops of time that reset ever so often, impossible to escape from, as they feel the pain of a fresh injury every time the cycle resets, setting entire areas on fire, manipulating glass shards to explode and wreak havoc on entire cities through sound manipulations, using plastic surgery on hostages to look like members of the Nine to escape from heroes with impunity, kill someone they were hired to kill then kill the person who hired them because NOBODY hires the Nine and then fusing the two dead bodies into one super-monster etc.) probably deserve to die (and they have kill orders and incredibly high bounties for any that take them in dead). Now, the only way to make certain that people like these won't hurt anyone else ever again is to kill them, and sometimes even that is uncertain (See: the bastard child of Schroedinger's cat and the multiple worlds theory - retcon!). So, what do you do? Nothing, really. Nothing you can do. To move on, the problem with those working on devastating plans is that the key-words here are 'working on' and thus, it is unlikely you can prove them guilty of it. Even if you can, these are the caliber of villains that will have multiple contingencies in the case that they are exposed. So, in short, there's no realistic way to win in that situation. Now, onto the issue of evil vs. mentally ill. I personally believe the majority of villains are villainous by circumstance rather than choice, and thus this will apply to a small fraction of the villain base. So, it is necessary to give those that are mentally unstable the proper care and rehabilitation, and see if they can be persuaded to be heroes upon the possible completion of recovery. However, the insanity plea will be incredibly easy to manufacture for the villains where this issue matters, for the same reason that the masterminds won't get caught. To summarise: yeah, no real way to deal with them that is fair and difficult to exploit.
SuperHero Alias: The Baron.
Powers: Teleport objects and entities through shadows.