I have been studying how I may compare This prison where I live unto the world; And, for because the world is populous, And here is not a creature but myself, I cannot do it. Yet I'll hammer it out.
The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses.
Justice is justice though it's always delayed and finally done only by mistake.
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.”
The thoughts of a prisoner - they're not free either. They keep returning to the same things.
A just chastisement may benefit a man, though it seldom does; but an unjust one changes all his blood to gall.
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.
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.
History is full of people who went to prison or were burned at the stake for proclaiming their ideas. Society has always defended itself.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
I just remember that disturbing feeling of walking into that prison, the complete loss of privacy, the complete loss of stimulation, dignity.
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.
To make punishments efficacious, two things are necessary. They must never be disproportioned to the offence, and they must be certain.
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.
There is no greater punishment of wickedness that that it is dissatisfied with itself and its deeds.