Now here's a science fiction trope I've never understood: cryonic jails. I was reminded of this when I recently viewed the trailer for "MS One: Maximum Security", a sci fi/action film due out in April starring Guy Pierce. The trope is probably better known from the film "Demolition Man" and basically it goes like this: in futuristic jails prisoners are cryonically frozen for the duration of their sentence. Which makes no sense if you consider the purpose of jails. I practice criminal law for a living, so perhaps this is more annoying to me than to others, but consider ...
The word "penitentiary" comes from Mediaeval Latin penitentiaria (“place of penitence”) -- it's meant to be a place where one is reformed through penance and meditation upon one's transgressions. Certainly this was the original intention when one considers the progenitors of our modern jails, those set up by the Quakers in the 1790s that involved all the inmates being held in cells alone with only the Bible to read. Penance means at the very least a certain level of punishment or discomfort. Letting prisoners sleep through their sentence completely takes away any penance and makes it merely temporary warehousing.
In terms of MS One where the premise also includes the prison being in space, I can see that, because you can't get any more secure than that -- it's a lot more difficult to escape when the jail is surrounded by hard vacuum. There's literally nowhere to go, even moreso than the Siberian gulags. But letting them sleep through the duration of the sentence ... well it certainly takes away the punishment aspect of the sentence because for the incarcerated person the sentence will be perceived as but a day or two long (and for real criminals, being seperated from friends/family because of being gone isn't really a big deal). Likewise the deterrent or denunciative aspect is nonexistent since it's awfully easy time to just snooze through your sentence. Rehabilitation is similarly out the window for the same reason -- the criminal's asleep so he can't learn anything.
That leaves the only purpose being to separate offenders from the public. Which has certain merit, I suppose, but it not very effectively accomplished by cryonics -- the twenty year old killer is still twenty years old when he's released after a 50 year sentence if cryonically frozen. He's 70 years old an a lot less likely to be physically able to commit further crimes if he's simply been warehoused in a standard institution all that time. And I doubt it would be a whole lot cheaper to keep someone on ice (refrigeration/monitoring systems) than to feed and clothe him for all that time. It just strikes me, overall, as a dumb idea. And from the trailer for MS One I have no idea why they even used it -- looks to me like just having a normal prison in space would have worked fine.