The object of punishment is prevention from evil; it never can be made impulsive to good.
Overlook our deeds, since you know that crime was absent from our inclination.
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.
In a civilized society, all crimes are likely to be sins, but most sins are not and ought not to be treated as crimes.
I sometimes wish that people would put a little more emphasis upon the observance of the law than they do upon its enforcement.
In jail a man has no personality. He is a minor disposal problem and a few entries on reports. Nobody cares who loves or hates him, what he looks like, what he did with his life. Nobody reacts to him unless he gives trouble. Nobody abuses him. All that is asked of him is that he go quietly to the right cell and remain quiet when he gets there. There is nothing to fight against, nothing to be mad at. The jailers are quiet men without animosity or sadism.
The idea that the sole aim of punishment is to prevent crime is obviously grounded upon the theory that crime can be prevented, which is almost as dubious as the notion that poverty can be prevented.
It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.
If we look at Houston, which is a very environmentally toxic place, we find that it has one of the highest levels of young men going to prison and also among the highest levels of illiteracy in the country.
A Sunday school is a prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents.
It was only when I lay there on the rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not between states nor between social classes nor between political parties, but right through every human heart, through all human hearts. And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me, bless you, prison, for having been a part of my life.
I wrote a million words in the first year, and I could never have done that outside of prison.
No matter how you seem to fatten on a crime, that can never be good for the bee which is bad for the hive.
Faults of the head are punished in this world, those of the heart in another; but as most of our vices are compound, so also is their punishment.
Every crime has, in the moment of its perpetration, Its own avenging angel--dark misgiving, An ominous sinking at the inmost heart.