The 1800's saw the gradual replacement of corporal punishment, usually in the form of a public whipping on the back, with imprisonment, in which men who committed crimes were kept captive and often whipped or spanked repeatedly (almost always on the buttocks, usually with an enormous strap) for the least violation of prison rules. While in prison they were often contracted to businesses as slave labor.
This illustration shows some of the abuses which happened under the inhumane prison systems typical of the US from roughly the end of the Civil War (1865) to the 1960s. Of course conditions differed from state to state and of course they were worse in the South.
Nowadays we have gone to a system where a much larger percentage of the population is imprisoned, for longer terms, mostly for nonviolent offenses, and spanking has been replaced by long periods of solitary confinement. The social isolation of what are often already seriously fucked up individuals can result in total psychosis.
Really, human society reeks. On the brighter side, we are (with the possible exception of the bonobos) the most enlightened of the larger apes. If we want to use that as a framework for comparison.
Much darker than my usual work. I think the idea, though depressing, is hot, but my approach was too ambitious and I'm not really pleased with the result. Let me know what you think.