Civilization is maintained by a very few people in a small number of places and we need only some bombs and a few prisons to blot it out altogether.
Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a God.
The penalty for laughing in a courtroom is six months in jail; if it were not for this penalty, the jury would never hear the evidence.
No written law has been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
The public have more interest in the punishment of an injury than he who receives it.
Whatever is worthy to be loved for anything is worthy of preservation. A wise and dispassionate legislator, if any such should ever arise among men, will not condemn to death him who has done or is likely to do more service than injury to society. Blocks and gibbets are the nearest objects with legislators, and their business is never with hopes or with virtues.
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.
Most people fancy themselves innocent of those crimes of which they cannot be convicted.
The only difference between me and my fellow actors is that I've spent more time in jail.
You utter a vow, or forge a signature, and you may find yourself bound for life to a monastery, a woman, or prison.
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.
Here the great art lies, to discern in what the law is to be to restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work.
The perfection of a thing consists in its essence; there are perfect criminals, as there are men of perfect probity.
Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future lives and crimes to society.
It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their own kind.
The worst of prison life, he thought, was not being able to close his door.
Once we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our mind, our duty is to furnish it well.
Justice is that virtue of the soul which is distributive according to desert.
What restrains us from killing is partly fear of punishment, partly moral scruple, and partly what may be described as a sense of humor.
There's no greater threat to our independence, to our cherished freedoms and personal liberties than the continual, relentless injection of these insidious poisons into our system. We must decide whether we cherish independence from drugs, without which there is no freedom.
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.
To make punishments efficacious, two things are necessary. They must never be disproportioned to the offence, and they must be certain.