Floating prisons

Vernon C. Bain floating prison barge

This is the Vernon C. Bain floating prison barge, still in use in New York City. Subtopia has another of their trademark long and fascinating articles, this one on floating prisons of all types. Their prose can be positively hypnotic, while their focus is “military urbanism” as it relates to architecture.

And so, what shores have we moored these futuristic immigration prisons on? What dark and contentious legal waters have we cast the management of untried terrorist suspects and unsorted global refugees to, either inside the bowels of some classified naval destroyer, or perhaps packed inside the cargo spaces of the greatest floating prisons of all time – the CIA’s unmarked 747?

Being imprisoned either on a boat or in a plane would be scarier than being in regular prisons. Escape of course, would be impossible, plus there would be a feeling of being dissociated from everything and utterly helpless.

Then there’s Old Newgate Prison in Connecticut which was operational from 1773-1827. It was an abandoned copper mine. Prisoners were marched to bottom of it at night and the openings were then sealed. Even back then it was thought to be inhumane. While not a floating prison, it seems equally as hideous – and not for the claustrophobic.

Will there come a day when the world’s oceans are dotted with new hegemonic naval networks of prison floatillas patrolling the human smuggler routes of lost seas, scooping up thousands of refugees like schools of fish in a great surveillance net.

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