The object of punishment is prevention from evil; it never can be made impulsive to good.
What restrains us from killing is partly fear of punishment, partly moral scruple, and partly what may be described as a sense of humor.
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.
When I was in prison, I was wrapped up in all those deep books. That Tolstoy crap - people shouldn't read that stuff.
No written law has been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
To make punishments efficacious, two things are necessary. They must never be disproportioned to the offence, and they must be certain.
I sometimes wish that people would put a little more emphasis upon the observance of the law than they do upon its enforcement.
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.
There are dreadful punishments enacted against thieves; but it were much better to make such good provisions, by which every man might be put in a method how to live, and so to be preserved from the fatal necessity of stealing and dying for it.
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.
There are few better measures of the concern a society has for its individual members and its own well being than the way it handles criminals.
Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a God.
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blue Which prisoners call the sky.
Nor cell, nor chain, nor dungeon speaks to the murderer like the voice of solitude.