In "Meld," Suder commits murder, for basically no reason, and Janeway eventually puts him in his quarters under guard for the duration of the journey. He is initially put into the brig, but it appears to be only for a few days, if that.

Paris is given a month in the brig, and reduced in rank, for disobeying the captain's orders ("Thirty Days").

It seems as though Janeway is awfully inconsistent when doling out punishment. Commit murder, spend a few days in the brig, then enjoy your quarters (presumably keeping your rank). Violate the captain's orders and interfere with another civilization, and you're in big trouble.

In-universe reasons for this apparent discrepancy?

  • 3
    I've tried to justify it, but yeah, it's basically just a way of "disappearing" Suder until required by later episodes, freeing up the brig if needed.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 21:14
  • @amaretto you do know that you yourself can edit posts, right? Under the post, to the right of "share", click "edit", make the change, hit save, and you're done! :)
    – RedCaio
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 0:41
  • 2
    Having been in the US Navy, what happened to Paris is fairly authentic. Been there myself a bit, but subs don't have brigs. At sea with us, Suder would have been sent away on a chopper at the earliest opportunity to face a proper incarceration, but with mind-melds handy and no port in sight, I'm not sure what would happen. But the Federation has policy stances that make this make at least some sense.
    – user51340
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 4:17
  • 12
    Suder had no rank to take - he was a Crewman. The only way to reduce him in rank would be to discharge him from Starfleet altogether, but she had hopes of rehabilitating him. Also, in a future society where murder almost never happens (except on the show), someone like Suder comes across as a mental health issue whereas disobeying orders is a serious crime in Starfleet.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 4:17
  • 2
    If Sudar has been stuck in the brig indefinitely, where would Janeway have put Paris? ... besides, there's a reason it's called the Prime Directive. "Don't murder people" is probably down around number 15 or so. :-) Commented Mar 13, 2016 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


As far as Suder was concerned, Janeway's goal wasn't to simply keep punishing him for the next 70+ years but to bring him back to a point where he might be useful to the ship and crew. That included radical "mind-meld" therapy and allowing him some measure of normality, as would befit someone who had committed a crime from a position of mental illness.

JANEWAY: I don't. I prefer to rehabilitate him, not to end his life. We'll confine him to quarters. Work with Kim to install maximum security containment.

TUVOK: Pardon me, Captain, but allowing him the comfort of his own quarters doesn't seem an appropriate punishment for murder.

JANEWAY: If we don't get home soon, he'll be in that room a long time, Mister Tuvok. I think this is the best we can do under these circumstances.

By comparison, Paris' punishment is exactly that, intended to actually punish him. By depriving him of the most basic facilities, Janeway seems convinced that he might actually learn something from his transgressions, in the same way that he was improved by his time in the prison on New Zealand.

JANEWAY: I admire your principles, Tom, but I can't ignore what you've done. I hereby reduce you to the rank of Ensign, and I sentence you to thirty days solitary confinement. Take Ensign Paris to the brig.

PARIS: I know the way.

Purely as an aside, you may wish to note that it's pretty normal (in most countries) for long-term prisoners to be granted better facilities than those serving short-term sentences.

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