In episode five "Safe" of Firefly there's a flashback of Simon's father bailing him out of prison after his first, failed attempt to rescue River. In this scene his father says

"I just spent 2000 credits to get you out of here, and I had to walk through that door which goes on my permanent profile."

Why does voluntarily entering a prison go on one's permanent profile? If the idea is that associating with criminals affects some sort of social credit score (a la China), why does it apply to people who have yet to be convicted? Furthermore, Simon's mother or anyone else who interacts with him once he's outside of prison doesn't get penalized, and for that matter Simon's father, or anyone else, could associate with an actual convicted criminal once they've served their sentence without penalty. You might say he was being punished for bailing someone out of prison, but he didn't say "I just spent 2000 credits to get you out of here, not to mention that goes on my permanent profile." but rather ""I just spent 2000 credits to get you out of here, and I had to walk through that door, which goes on my permanent profile." implying you would walk through that door for reasons other than bailing someone out. So what gives?

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    Its not explained in the show, but a reasonable guess would be guilt by association - attending prison as a non-employee or not on official business means you are probably strongly associated with a prisoner, enough to visit them, and thus have that association noted at a particular level. The bailing out would have gone on the record as well, but in addition to actually attending the prison to personally deal with the prisoner perhaps…
    – Moo
    Oct 6, 2022 at 7:34
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    The Alliance is presented as strongly Authoritarian, it's likely that "everything" goes on your permanent record. Potentially the 2000 credits does not as it's a black market transition, but actually entering the police station would be unavoidably recorded.
    – Jontia
    Oct 6, 2022 at 8:56

1 Answer 1


In the Firefly: River Run graphic novelisation, there's an additional word inserted into this conversation. It's not that he went through the door, it's that he went through the scanners on the door, suggesting that the process of adding this to his permanent profile would have been automated, and not something he can use his money and influence to ooze out of.

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The clear implication (as seen in the Serenity RPG below) is that everyone in the core worlds has a docket containing some kind of social score and a complete record of their activities. Entering a prison is likely to create a "guilt by association" kinda deal, since only someone who knows a prisoner would be visiting a prison.

There is so much surveillance on a Core world “to prevent crime and ensure the safety of citizens” that almost everything a person does is recorded on a monitor somewhere. The authorities will tell you that crime is almost non-existent on the Central Planets, since their scanners are almost everywhere. Still, folk being folk, there are some who manage to find a way to poke the Alliance in its electronic eye now and then.

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