By totally misplacing reality, I had a thought. We need to use the moon. I know little kids everywhere would agree with me, and that's because in a way, it is like watching a fairy tale. It has been so long since we've been to the moon, we really need to go again, if only to keep the legend alive. Any closer we can get away from Earth's orbit, the easier it will be to get to Mars, and if everything was taken to the Moon, assembled, and the rocket left will reasonably less resistance from the Moon's surface, it might be the head start the Mars mission needs.
But who wants to live on the moon? Well, Nebraska idealism might provide the answer. By banning executions, they have shown that some believe every life has a use, and, for an idea, those condemned to death and life sentences might find a more useful way to occupy their time than gang rapes and mindless television. Yes, I realize that sending criminals to space is not the safest thing in the world, but most of them are megalomaniacs and others have no fear. Many have very high intelligence or survival skills or situational strategy. It's not like eating space food and maintaining and building Moon structures and Mars rockets is the ideal situation. The fact is it is not easy being isolated inside, ALL THE TIME. If anyone can do it, prisoners can. You could even recruit less dangerous ex-cons in leadership roles, to help maintain order and sanity.
Now, would they develop weapons and bomb the Earth? Possibly. Also might end up killing each other, wasting time, wasting billions upon billions of development dollars, and never end up going anywhere.
So perhaps you could just provide them with a colony? Instead of just killing and trapping, we could send them to the Moon to live as best they can, sending up supplies and research and letting them discover if they really want that second chance, up on the Moon. The main thing, in order to at least attempt human welfare, is the offer would have to made on a volunteer basis. No forcing lifers to it, give them the option. Their life in prison, or their life on the Moon. No bars, but no atmosphere either.
Training would be required, which would be dangerous if escape attempts were made during the training process. Also, getting there. Do you trust a bunch of lifers to navigate themselves to the Moon, or do you use some stalwart astronauts to shuttle them back and forth, perhaps putting their lives in danger.
The main issue is trust. How can you trust the worst of the imprisoned to make it and thrive on the Moon, a feat that many law-abiding citizens can train decades for just to fail? One, it is to realize, however flawed, these are still human beings. They may be evil, but they still have all the experiences of their life to guide them, and that means, although they made an irreversible mistake (mistakes) in the past, they also may find themselves able to do something better. Especially if it is going to the Moon.
This is at least great fodder for a movie? What do you think?