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.
In a civilized society, all crimes are likely to be sins, but most sins are not and ought not to be treated as crimes.
The perfection of a thing consists in its essence; there are perfect criminals, as there are men of perfect probity.
Society has used the juvenile courts to create a caste system where there are throw-away people.
By noiselessly going to a prison a civil-resister ensures a calm atmosphere.
I know not whether laws be right, or whether laws be wrong; All that we know who lie in gaol is that the wall is strong; And that each day is like a year, a year whose days are long.
No written law has been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
Three hundred years ago a prisoner condemned to the Tower of London carved on the wall of his cell this sentiment to keep up his spirits during his long imprisonment: “It is not adversity that kills, but the impatience with which we bear adversity.”
Prison continues, on those who are entrusted to it, a work begun elsewhere, which the whole of society pursues on each individual through innumerable mechanisms of discipline.
The refined punishments of the spiritual mode are usually much more indecent and dangerous than a good smack.
The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison walls.
Justice is justice though it's always delayed and finally done only by mistake.
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.
If you treat prisoners well, they will be less angry, less inclined to violence inside prison, less likely to provoke violent actions by guards, less likely to have reason to file brutality lawsuits that cost taxpayers a bundle and waste administrators' time. And most important, well-treated prisoners will be less likely to leave prison angrier, more vicious and more inclined to criminal behavior than when they went in.
Care should be taken that the punishment does not exceed the guilt; and also that some men do not suffer for offenses for which others are not even indicted.
It is certain that the study of human psychology, if it were undertaken exclusively in prisons, would also lead to misrepresentation and absurd generalizations.
Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year. This is quite a profitable sum, especially when one considers that the Mafia spends very little for office supplies.
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.
A just chastisement may benefit a man, though it seldom does; but an unjust one changes all his blood to gall.