Tips for Building Your Next Space Prison

Hubby and I saw Lockout on the weekend.  I was skeptical, because the premise was – to my mind – ludicrous.

Prison revolt… in space!!!  Actually, that bit was fine.  It was the fact that all the prisoners were in stasis for the entirety of their incarceration.

Depending on your point of view, the purpose of prison is either for punishment or rehabilitation, but a stasis prison accomplishes neither, since the prisoners don’t grow older and essentially sleep through their sentence.

They actually ended up providing a reason I could accept for the whole stasis thing, and there were some great explosions and action scenes (although there was a *terrible* chase scene at the beginning), but there were other issues.

I’ll try not to get too spoiler-y, but I learned some great “tips” to keep in mind for when you’re creating your next sci-fi prison break story.


  1. Ensure that the procedure for releasing ALL prisoners at the same time consists of pressing a simple three button sequence that any low-level technician knows and can perform.  Perhaps make it part of their orientation training.
  2. The procedure for releasing sleeping gas into the prison must be MORE complicated.  You wouldn’t want anyone to accidentally get hurt.  In fact, restrict access only to one or two of your security personnel.
  3. Only one escape pod, please.  And don’t add it to the schematics.  Drama, people, we need DRAMA.
  4. Anti-gravity tubes should be placed at random throughout the facility, otherwise there’s no possibility for an anti-gravity fight.  Pay no attention to Sigourney Weaver’s scene in Galaxy Quest when she says “What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn’t have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?”
  5. Do not have security cameras or any kind of sensors in the corridors of your super-high security facility.  If there should be a prisoner uprising, you’ve got to give them an edge. Finding your way blind through the facility is how they’d do it in Duke Nuke ‘em, so that’s clearly the best way.
  6. Make sure the police force ostensibly in charge of the facility is not stationed ON the facility, and ensure they don’t have any sort of override for the external defenses.
  7. If you’re going to send a young, attractive woman to interview one of the prisoners, make sure he’s a violent rapist with control issues.

There were more… but I don’t want to give away all the secrets I learned.  What if I want to make my own space prison break movie?

KC Burn



  1. Great post! I haven’t seen Lockout, but the lack of security cameras in just about ANY science fiction movie/TV show is one of my pet peeves! We’re (still) rewatching ST:DS9, and I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, “What’s going on down there?” or “You should come take a look at this.” Why are there no security cameras anywhere??? Security cameras existed in the 1990s, didn’t they? lol

    1. Oh, I know – so annoying!

  2. I’m so taking notes. Should the attractive woman sent to interview the rapist be trapped in the cell with him? I think that idea is pure gold.

    1. Oh, absolutely! That would be perfect. There’s no way that could go wrong! And by the way, I’m totally expecting royalties from everyone’s forthcoming space prison break stories 😉

  3. Depends on the movie poster they promote! The “LOST” fans will take a look for sure! As for the movie, wait for it on TV or something…

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