Robert Sheckley's The Status Civilization is 60's novel of a planet devoted solely to harboring a prison population. Much as Australia originated as a penal colony, an entire planet is devoted to being a dumping ground for criminals and social misfits, but there are no wardens or guards. Prisoners are simply dumped there after a memory wipe. The society has evolved to value status, but tolerates socially acceptable violence as a means of rising in status. One individual bucks the system and falls in with a resistance group that manages to smuggle him onto the transport ship to return to Earth in an effort to connect up with like minded groups. He finds that Earth has evolved to a rigidly conformist society that is almost as unbearable as the prison planet.
Sheckley takes a dim view of the post-McCarthy era and projects space exploration as a means of dealing with criminals as well as any socially non-conformist elements. The intent is to compare two societies that each rigidly define status and the acceptable means for improvement that on the surface appear different but basically are quite similar. The second part feels quite rushed and the book ends without closure.