Watching DS9, S2E21, The Maquis, Pt II. Sisko is trying to talk Cal out of further activities with the Maquis. He tells Cal that the Federation won't stop until Cal was "behind bars".

Since we know that on star ships and space stations at least, prison cells all use force fields to prevent escape from the cells, does that mean that bars are no longer used? Or do full scale, planet-side prisons still use bars on their cells?

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    Some idioms are forever. – user16696 Jul 8 '15 at 1:59
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    We can say things like "get that on tape" even when we are not using video cassettes. – Praxis Jul 8 '15 at 1:59
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    @cde : That's too weird --- I almost used "hang up" instead! – Praxis Jul 8 '15 at 2:03
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    "Dial" a number lately? :) – K-H-W Jul 8 '15 at 3:20
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    AFAICT, most modern prisons and jails don't use bars today. Anything built within the last 2 decades would be using solid walls and heavy-duty steel doors with a hardened plexiglass window in them. – Lèse majesté Jul 8 '15 at 9:47

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In the 2266, we see a couple of bars in a brig on the Enterprise — of course, these particular ones wouldn't do a very good job of keeping the prisoner inside without the force field that is also in place.

After an extensive search, I cannot find an example of a brig or cell on a Federation starship or installation from the 23rd Century or later that does not involve a force field in some crucial way. Any bars that are present are merely part of the electrostatic force field generator and are not positioned in a way that would confine the prisoner when the field is inactive (as in the "Charlie X" example above).

If Cal were sent to a prison, it would likely be the Federation Penal Colony in New Zealand where Tom Paris and other Maquis collaborators were sent:

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Apart from the unstylish grey jumpsuits, this seems to be a fairly comfortable open-air prison. No bars in sight.

In short, it seems that force-field-based brigs and open-plan penal colonies are standard in the Federation of the 23rd and 24th centuries. This seems to be consistent with the general ethos of the Federation.

By then, "behind bars" is probably just a figure of speech, like "hang up the phone" or "dial the number" or "make sure you get that on tape".

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    There was a funny line in one of the books where Riker tells Data that "a broken chronometer is right twice a day" and Data points out that a broken chronometer would likely have no display at all. – FuzzyBoots Jul 8 '15 at 18:20

Old expressions are widely used today even if they are practically obsolete and unfit for current times. Like the old 'lets go for a ride'.

Phone “lines”. In this cellphone world there are no “lines”, everything is wireless. Term is still used. Some mobile phones even have the option to switch between lines.

"The tube" – a popular synonym for a television. Once upon a time there were tubes in a TV set. No longer. Now it's used to sometimes refer to youtube.

“Sampling” used to mean trying a variety of selections. Today in the music world it means stealing someone else's work and justifying it as an homage.

“Kodak Moments” are also used even if you use DSLRs.

“Records” is also a currently use term, even if now they don't exist anymore.

  • Records do still exist - in fact they're making a comeback - but it's true that albums are often referred to as records even if there is no vinyl version. – Wolfie Inu Oct 30 '15 at 4:37

Idioms last forever.Terms like "Behind Bars" or "Stone walls" or in the clink (the sound made when a door shuts). WHY use forcefields at all, they require constant energy, they fail in case of incident or power failure. Brigs using conventional doors are safer. In the voyager episode "Repentance" a ship attacks Voyager carrying a group of prisoners, the force fields fail permitting the prisoners to escape, while the cells are made of "Tritanium" bulk heads, strong stuff. But use forcefield doors. The Federation utilizes penal colonies (Voyager ep: Caretaker) which were often much different than prisons, in a sense the inmates cannot leave the perimeter but other than that are roving and allowed prisoners freedom to move about the compound. In the Abramverse; the Enterprise Brig uses transparent solid walls. enter image description here

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