The contagion of crime is like that of the plague. Criminals collected together corrupt each other; they are worse than ever when at the termination of their punishment they re-enter society.
Fear can be like a prison. It is, however, a self made prison. Many are imprisoned by fear. No one else can liberate them from this prison. Others may inspire them but they must liberate themselves.
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.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
A just chastisement may benefit a man, though it seldom does; but an unjust one changes all his blood to gall.
Virtue pardons the wicked, as the sandal-tree perfumes the axe which strikes it.
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.”
Nor cell, nor chain, nor dungeon speaks to the murderer like the voice of solitude.
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.
We who live in prison, and in whose lives there is no event but sorrow, have to measure time by throbs of pain, and the record of bitter moments.
Wicked deeds are generally done, even with impunity, for the mere desire of occupation.
The perfection of a thing consists in its essence; there are perfect criminals, as there are men of perfect probity.
Mere factual innocence is no reason not to carry out a death sentence properly reached.
It is safer that a bad man should not be accused, than that he should be acquitted.
The worst of prison life, he thought, was not being able to close his door.
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.
A country is in a bad state, which is governed only by laws; because a thousand things occur for which laws cannot provide, and where authority ought to interpose.
Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton.
If we were brought to trial for the crimes we have committed against ourselves, few would escape the gallows.
It is true you cannot eat freedom and you cannot power machinery with democracy. But then neither can political prisoners turn on the light in the cells of a dictatorship.
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.