I agree with you on that point. Many of us go to the gym regularly and burn some of our stored energy making weights go up and down or on a cardio machine, and usually we're listening to music and/or watching the big screen TVs while we're doing it.
At the very least, the energy we willingly expend for fitness could be used to help power those TVs, or the lights at the gym, or to charge our portable music players or phones.
Many of the responses to this post are centered on the question of whether it's right or wrong that prisoners can reduce their sentences by pedaling to power street lights. I agree that this is kind of a dicey proposition, particularly in the case of violent offenders. (But like Sylvie, I would hope that those offenders that have been convicted of violent crimes would not be eligible.)
But as to the other question that the author poses, what if you could use your own pedal power to heat the stove for breakfast or to power your TV, I'm all for it. While I agree with the earlier comment that this probably doesn't have the potential to replace that much of the power we use, every bit helps, and if we could harness the energy we expend in our daily workout, anyway, to help offset the energy we use, why not? If the efficiency can be improved, all the better.
I have always thought prisoners should pay for the tax-payer expense of holding them in secure and habitable places. I actually think they should do a 9 to 5 job (whatever society needs) in exchange for their full-board. I am not sure their sentences should be reduced as a result though...
Yeah, but bending to fill in a pothole... they could put their back out ;) I don't see why they don't just power the prison itself using the energy, instead of transporting the batteries into town. Prisoners want a TV? Pedal for it. They want warm food? pedal for it. That seems fair to me. pedal for perks.
The liability of a rider having a heart attack on a bike needs to be considered before applying the exercise for watts formula across the penal system. Better they apply themselves to fixing potholes in big cities. Those convicts already have a song to keep the beat: http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/sam_cooke/chain_gang.html