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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Brainlock  
  A technique to focus the attention of prisoners on a limited task, precluding the possibility of escape.  

Control the mind and get what you want. That's the purpose of a brainlock. Why spend money on guard towers and barbed wire when you can focus the attention of prisoners so precisely that they can't think of anything else?

Jerry's beeper went off while they were drinking coffee in Slick's room, huddled side-by-side at the edge of the bed. He'd been telling her as much as he knew about the Korsakov's, because she asked him. He hadn't ever really told anybody about it, and it was funny how little he actually knew. He told her about previous flashbacks, and then tried to explain how the system worked in jail. The trick was that you retain the long-term memory up to the point where they put you on the stuff. That way, they could train you to do something before you started serving your time and you didn't forget how to do it. Mostly you did stuff that robots could do. They trained him to assemble miniature geartrains; when he'd learned to put one together inside five minutes, that was it.

"And they didn't do anything else?" She asked.

"Just those gear trains."

"No, I mean like brainlocks."

He looked at her. The sore on her lip was almost healed. "If they do that, they don't tell you," he said.

Then the beeper went off in one of her jackets.

"Something's wrong," she said, getting up quickly.

From Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson.
Published by Bantam in 1988
Additional resources -

Compare to the asteroid prison from One Against the Legion (1939) by Jack Williamson, the Alcatraz of Space from Reunion on Ganymede (1938) by Clifford Simak, the Moon as prison from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Robert Heinlein, zero-time jail from A World Out of Time (1976) by Larry Niven and the orbital penal colony from Tekwar (1989) by William Shatner.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Mona Lisa Overdrive
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
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