There's a huge genre of prison films and stories – The Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, The Great Escape, Stalag 17, Cool Hand Luke, O Brother Where Art Thou, that Prison Break show. The point is that these movies/TV shows reveal that prisoners in jail harbor hopes for the future – namely, getting the heck out of jail. Pronto. Nearly all of these films involve an exciting escape, or an attempted escape at the very least. But no one bothers to escape during One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. And it seems that most past escape attempts ended in prisoners getting shot. The hope of getting out of the gulag is described as pretty much hopeless. So hope, like everything else in the camp, is downsized. Prisoners here have hope for something like an extra portion of food. The hope for freedom is practically a pipe-dream. In the camp, the future is measured more in minutes than in years, and the long-term future seems doomed for most prisoners.
The camp environment makes it nearly impossible to dwell on distant future dreams since there are too many present worries.
The camp provides an excess of time to dwell on the future, to brood, and to make plans, which is a punishment in and of itself since future hopes are largely futile.