Fast closed with double grills
And triple gates – the cell
To wicked souls is hell;
But to a mind that's innocent
'Tis only iron, wood and stone.
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.
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. I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar.
Those magistrates who can prevent crime, and do not, in effect encourage it.
The number of laws is constantly growing in all countries and, owing to this, what is called crime is very often not a crime at all, for it contains no element of violence or harm.
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.
Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a God.
To seek the redress of grievances by going to law, is like sheep running for shelter to a bramble bush.
It is safer that a bad man should not be accused, than that he should be acquitted.
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.
The mellow sweetness of pumpkin pie off a prison spoon is something you will never forget.
Prison makes you a better judge of character. You pick up on people much faster.
Before we can diminish our sufferings from the ill-controlled aggressive assaults of fellow citizens, we must renounce the philosophy of punishment, the obsolete, vengeful penal attitude. In its place we would seek a comprehensive, constructive social attitude - therapeutic in some instances, restraining in some instances, but preventive in its total social impact. In the last analysis this becomes a question of personal morals and values. No matter how glorified or how piously disguised, vengeance as a human motive must be personally repudiated by each and every one of us.
I was in prison, and you came unto me. Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
~(Jesus Christ) Matthew 25:36, 40
The torment of human frustration, whatever its immediate cause, is the knowledge that the self is in prison, its vital force and 'mangled mind' leaking away in lonely, wasteful self-conflict.
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky.
When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.
Prisons don't rehabilitate, they don't punish, they don't protect, so what the hell do they do?
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.