Whatever you think of de Sade, he was a complex figure and we should not look for easy answers with him. He was, strangely perhaps, against the death penalty, and he was never put in prison for murders or anything like that.
By noiselessly going to a prison a civil-resister ensures a calm atmosphere.
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.
Every instance of a man's suffering the penalty of the law is an instance of the failure of that penalty in effecting its purpose, which is to deter.
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.
If punishment reaches not the mind and makes not the will supple, it hardens the offender.
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, Can be retentive to the strength of spirit; But life, being weary of these worldly bars, Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
The perfection of a thing consists in its essence; there are perfect criminals, as there are men of perfect probity.
Prison, dungeons, blessed places where evil is impossible because they are the crossroads of all the evil in the world. One cannot commit evil in hell.
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 we were brought to trial for the crimes we have committed against ourselves, few would escape the gallows.
It is hard, but it is excellent, to find the right knowledge of when correction is necessary and when grace doth most avail.