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Penal Colony

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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })What to do with criminals is a problem for societies real and fictional. One common solution in times past and perhaps future is the Penal Colony. This is a self-contained society consisting mostly of prisoners and those who guard them, usually separated from the civilized world by natural barriers in addition to (or instead of) prison walls; this can often be a remote island far out in the ocean, or some piece of land in the middle of nowhere, but in science fiction it may be a whole Prison Planet whose Hat is an orange jumpsuit.
Typically the prisoners will be required to do some sort of hard and dangerous labor; mining is a favorite in science fiction. If the colony is isolated, loosely controlled, or has no guards at all, it will resemble a Wretched Hive, with the prisoners more or less running the place.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })The Penal Colony can be a rich source of story ideas; if you're recruiting for a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, you might do it here. If a Rebel Leader is captured by The Empire and sent here they may have to fight their way to the top of the prison hierarchy, then arrange an escape. Need a source of people you can dispose of without anyone caring? Have your Xenomorph invade the Penal Colony. Is the place too loosely supervised? If so, it may become a base of operations for a crime lord.
These jails are often a type of Hellhole Prison. Compare Wretched Hive and Death World (which may be what separates the Penal Colony from civilization). Particularly inescapable ones can overlap with The Alcatraz or Phantom Zone. Often related to Settling the Frontier. See also Reassigned to Antarctica. The Super-Trope to Sentenced to Down Under, which is specifically the old British practice of sending their convicts to Australia way back in the 19th century.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })Examples:
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Phantom Zone
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The Phantom Zone from Superman is another prison dimension.
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The Gulag
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The Gulags of Siberia and other remote places (the Arctic north, Sakhalin) were used this way by the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, the major industrial cities of Norilsk, Vorkuta, and Magadan all started out as Gulags. Penal colonies are still a type of prison in Russia, with a rather lax security regime supplemented by being in the middle of nowhere.
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Casual Interstellar Travel
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Enabled by the generally casual interstellar travel and thus seen on various occasions in the Perry Rhodan setting. How bad they get depends on the regime running them — at the benevolent end of the spectrum one might see relatively civilized involuntary exile with the inhabitants left to their own devices as long as they make no trouble, while the other extreme may be plausibly exemplified by the Empire of Tradom with its propensity for using slave labor regardless of trivialities like economic sense and at least one whole planet set aside dedicated solely to torture. (Somewhat justified in that its ultimate authorities turned out to be a small clique of quasi-immortal emotion eaters who fed on suffering.)
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Fantasy Counterpart Culture
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The prison stations orbiting Planet Houston, and, to a lesser extent, Houston itself in Freelancer.
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Names to Run Away From Really Fast
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Devil's Island in French Guiana. Modernly famous for the memoir Papillon written by inmate Henri Charrière (later a Steve McQueen film of the same name), though his account is full of unlikely elements.
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Death World
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Originally it was the imperial capital, but then a rogue house nuked it and it became a Death World on par with Arrakis.
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Meaningful Name
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One prison planet is actually named Torment. It's a poor, low-population, non-industrial world in the Darrian subsector of the Spinward Marches. It holds the most incorrigible criminals, whose violent tendencies are considered impossible to cure. The planet is bitterly cold and barren, with only one central village of convicts. The prisoners must work in mining and industry to pay for the importation of sufficient food to survive. The prison is run by a hierarchy of criminals who require obedience from their fellow prisoners.
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I Don't Like the Sound of That Place
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The marvelously named planet Despayre in Death Star, the original construction site for the Death Star (and the first casualty of the Death Star superlaser). There are also others that tend to end up in this kind of role, such as the spice mines of Kessel.
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Super Soldier
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Also the emperor's Sardaukar were recruited from that planet, the harsh conditions supposedly toughened them up.
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Final Solution
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During the early years of WWII the Nazis planned to deport Europe's Jews to Madagascar, which was under the control of Vichy France. The plan was put on hold when it became clear the UK would not surrender, then scrapped in favor of the Final Solution when Commonwealth and Free French forces captured Madagascar.
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Elegant Gothic Lolita
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Lutecia gets sent to a prison planet after the events of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. Though it's a very nice prison planet (the Takamachi family takes a vacation there in ViVid), which led to this exchange between her and a visiting Agito in StrikerS Sound Stage X.
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Covered Up
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"Jim Jones at Botany Bay", a traditional Australian folk ballad, today probably best known for being sung by Bob Dylan or for its inclusion in Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.
In a similar vein the Irish ballad "The Fields Of Athenry" ends with the male character being shipped off to Botany Bay for the crime of stealing corn from Lord Trevalyan to feed his starving family.
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