I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
No written law has been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses.
In prisons, those things withheld from and denied to the prisoner become precisely what he wants most of all.
Whatever you think of de Sade, he was a complex figure and we should not look for easy answers with him. He was, strangely perhaps, against the death penalty, and he was never put in prison for murders or anything like that.
I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.
The refined punishments of the spiritual mode are usually much more indecent and dangerous than a good smack.
There are dreadful punishments enacted against thieves; but it were much better to make such good provisions, by which every man might be put in a method how to live, and so to be preserved from the fatal necessity of stealing and dying for it.
Prosecution I have managed to avoid; but I have been arrested, charged in a police court, have refused to be bound over, and thereupon have been unconditionally released - to my great regret; for I have always wanted to know what going to prison was like.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up...I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through, before they could get to be as free as I was.
One man meets an infamous punishment for that crime which confers a diadem upon another.
In a civilized society, all crimes are likely to be sins, but most sins are not and ought not to be treated as crimes.
We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky.
Written laws are like spiders' webs, and will, like them, only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them.
It is safer that a bad man should not be accused, than that he should be acquitted.
It is not at the table, but in prison, that you learn who your true friends are.