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Odd questions that enter my head....
Hypothetically, imagine that it is discovered that aging is a matter of diet -- that with the right foods, easily understood by science, age-related degeneration can be eliminated or even reversed. That based on this, the very definition of a "healthy diet" has changed, and that everyone, or at least everyone in the so-called "developed world", eats a diet that keeps them healthy and young, free from the ravages of the diseases of aging. Death is by misadventure, including infectious illness. Free from aging, a person's remaining life expectancy wouldn't go down as they age (e.g., in 2003 a white male American 35 years old could expect to live another 44 years. A white male American 100 years old could expect to live another 2 years. In the hypothetical scenario a 35-year-old could expect to live another X years, and so could a 100 year old).

This is the set-up, not the question. The questions follow.

Now imagine the penal system in such a world.

Would it be considered cruel and unusual punishment to serve prisoners food not from this "healthy diet" -- subjecting them to the avoidable results of growing old?

Would "life imprisonment without parole" be considered a reasonable sentence anymore?

Would any finite sentence length be considered *un*reasonable, as a well-fed prisoner would not have their time at liberty effectively reduced (as they would have the same expectancy upon release as they had going in)?

What other effects would it have on the penal system?

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Feeding prisoners a diet of non-optimum food would be somewhere between denying them necessary medical care and actively poisoning them. And the whole concept of imprisonment as a "punishment" for crime would be shown to be meaningless (which it is already). Perhaps someone would come up with a way to truly rehabilitate those who commit acts that are detrimental to the well-being of their fellow humans. Perhaps the emphasis would be more on restitution than on punishment, as we do to a limited degree now with "community service". On the other pseudopod, perhaps criminals would be punished by things like public floggings, or even gladitorial contests. (Why, yes, I have been re-reading Heinlein lately.)

Assuming this diet doesn't reverse the affects of aging, then aging would be the punishment. If you were 20 years old when you committed a crime that got you sentenced to 30 years in prison, then you would come out a 50 year old. You would still have x number of years to live but they would be as a 50 year old. You would lose your youth with all it's beauty and health advantages. That would be a hell of a deterrent.

Just as an aside, I think the "healthy diet" foods would immediately become prohibitively expensive.

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