Yes, There Are Prisons
In answer to Scrooge’s question, yes indeed there are. And lots and lost of prisoners.
Mike Konczal has an interesting post showing that there’s a quite strong correlation between conservative economic policies and large prison populations:
I’ll have to think about exactly what’s going on here. But the discussion brings to mind something I ponder on now and then: what happened to the inevitable collapse of American society?
All through the 70s and 80s, and some way into the 90s, it was almost a given that all of America — or at least all of our central cities — would turn into something like the South Bronx, or worse. It was practically a cliche of popular culture; it was also a theme propounded solemnly and at great length by writers like Gertrude Himmelfarb, who insisted that only a return to traditional moral values could arrest our decline.
And then a funny thing happened. Values continued to shift: we kept on having premarital sex and getting divorces, gay and lesbian couples went out in public, relatively few Americans went to church (although a larger number claimed that they went.) Yet crime declined sharply, big cities (New York in particular) became safer than they had been in many decades, and in general society seemed to hold together.
I don’t think we really know why all that happened. But the failure of dystopia to appear on schedule is one of the remarkable good things about modern America.