Update 5:29 p.m. [July 25]: I wanted to get to the bottom of this controversy (see below), so I e-mailed Hasbro's Nicole Agnello, a publicity manager at the company. We exchanged e-mails, and she assured me that the "jail" spaces are intact in Monopoly Empire:
The Monopoly Empire game has a different game play where players buy and sell brands, rather than real estate but there are still the traditional ‘go to jail’ spaces on the board.
I also asked her about a colleague's quote in The Wall Street Journal, wondering if it applied to any Monopoly game on the market. She wrote back:
The jail spaces have not been removed from any Monopoly games.
So there you have it. Jail spaces, according to the Hasbro people themselves, have not been removed from Monopoly games right now. The free world can rest easy. For now.
Update 4:34 p.m. [July 25]: There is perhaps hope for fans of Monopoly who believe in jail. Fast Company is reporting that an unnamed Hasbro employee is saying that the jail for Monopoly Empire, the alternative version of Monopoly featured by The Wall Street Journal, remains intact. "I just wanted to clarify that the Monopoly Empire game does have a jail space. It has not been removed from the game," the rep told Fast Company's Alice Truong. That runs counter to what spokesperson Julie Duffy told The Journal, which reported:
There is no longer a 'jail' for players to languish in while waiting for a lucky roll, says Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy.
We don't know if Duffy is referring to a different set of rules or some other aspect of the game entirely. We're currently reaching out to Hasbro to get to the bottom of the jail mystery.