More about the universe in which the Psi-Tech books are set.
The Monitors – Galactic Policing
Formed in 2391, the Monitors are an interstellar policing force largely concerned with providing law in the space-lanes and for those newly established colonies that have not yet achieved critical mass in terms of their own law-keeping. They are not affiliated with the megacorps, though they often have to work together. They have massive ships that carry a self-contained circuit court. The circuit-court ships tour the subscribed colonies and independent settlements, generally dealing with the more serious crimes.
Well-established colonies have their own police forces but the Monitors hold precedence over local law if necessary. In practice they prefer to work with local forces rather than ride roughshod over them, but there are times when they have to muscle in. Funded by levies from all the subscribed worlds, Monitor effectiveness is limited by their ability to respond quickly to requests for intervention. They are one of the few organisations that keeps a modest fleet of jumpships for fast response.
Some of the independent settlements (i.e. not owned by one of the megacorps) also pay a levy to the Monitors. Theoretically speaking the Monitors are obliged to pursue the process of the law whether or not individual planets are signed up, but it’s a delicate balance on the independent worlds.
Before working with the Trust Ben Benjamin started his career in the Monitors, but encountered corruption and realised it was something he couldn’t fight alone, and preferred to be somewhere where he could truly make a difference. When offered a job settling new colonists on virgin planets, he took it.
Most planets do not have capital punishment. Those that do are generally planets not signed up to the Monitor ‘circuit courts’ and the prison planet system, and are without resources to build their own prisons. The Monitors have access to designated prison planets, usually marginally survivable worlds. There’s no rule on any prison planet except the rules the prisoners make for themselves, i.e. survival of the fittest. Prisoners are stripped of their handpads, dropped and left with only the clothes they stand up in. If they have a set-term sentence they must present themselves at the drop point on the day their sentence is up (presuming they can keep track of time without their handpads). They have only one opportunity to get off planet. If they miss their pickup they are stuck. Unsurprisingly only a small proportion of prisoners ever show up for pickup. Some prison planets are lawless hell-holes, others are not much different from independent colonies. Much depends on the prisoners themselves. Once a prison planet has a population of fifty thousand it’s closed to further inmates. If, fifty years later, if it has become ‘civilised’ it can apply to become an affiliated settlement. The acceptance process takes long enough that by the time colony status is granted the original prisoners will all have died of old age, natural and unnatural causes, and the population will consist only of their children and grandchildren.
Crossways is an enormous rogue space station peopled by criminals, gangs, arms dealers, weapons labs, and used as a home base by pirate and smuggling fleets. It’s governed by a coalition of crimelords. Street crime (though not entirely eliminated) is severely frowned upon since in order for outsiders to come to Crossways to do business, the streets have to be relatively safe. Crossways was once a megacorps station, but some years ago fought a war for independence, which they won. The damage to the station was extensive and over the years it has been repaired piecemeal, giving the whole place an irregular outline as bits have been built on and sealed off. Don’t get the wrong idea, Crossways is not anarchic. The governing crimelords ensure that the non-criminal inhabitants can still live and work, bring up their children and run legitimate businesses. Someone has to feed and clothe the populace, see to their medical needs, and maintain the station’s infrastructure. The station has its own security force and it’s armed to the teeth against outsiders. The Monitors leave it alone unless invited in. The crimelords deal with transgressors harshly. Anyone who breaks the rules finds themselves taking a short walk out of the nearest airlock.