"Prison is no deterrent; middle-class policymakers who are appalled by the thought of being locked up themselves don’t seem to understand that. Hardened criminals I’ve encountered have repeatedly told me that life in the can is easier than life outside."

Georgette Bennett

Crime Warps


"Penology....has become torture and foolishness, a waste of money and a cause of crime....a blotting out of sight and heightening of social anxiety."

-Paul Goodman


No other nation of Earth makes more prisons than the Unites States, leader of the free world. 1000 beds each week…another new prison ever 4 days

The Federal pens are bulging…Texas must release one con for each new inmate

More than 250,000 parked in temporary holding tanks

In 1850 the country locked away 29 for each 100,000 citizens

In 1988 the country locked away 230 per 100,000 citizens

Taxpayers shell out $25,000 to $45,000 per year per inmate

Each new cell costs upwards of $85,000 a year to build. $1 million over 30 years including debt service

Paradoxically the movement to pack prisons has helped serious offenders…"Parole boards are releasing men they know they shouldn’t"

Lee Samaniego (Sheriff of El Paso)



EX-CONS ON THE STREET…by Jeff Glasser U.S. News & World Report..May 1,2000

The crime crackdown produces a record number of ex-offenders with nowhere to go.

A CASE STUDY IN PLICING FOR David E. Kaplan…U.S. News & World Report,July 10,000


"The only real humanizing influence in prison is the influence of the prisoners."

Oscar Wilde



"Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison. It is the people brought up in the gay intimacy of the slums....who find prison so soul-destroying."

Evelyn Waugh

Decline and Fall


"Everywhere, every minute-like the air you breathe-there is the threat of violence lurking beneath the surface. Unlike the air, it is heavy, massive, as oppressive as molasses. It permeates every second of everyone’s existence-the potential threat of sudden, ferocious annihilation. It is as gray and swift and unpredictable as a shark and just as unvocal. There is no letup from it-ever."

Bill Sands

My Shadow Ran Fast



"Incarceration in a prison necessarily, fatally, destroys the energy of a man, and still more kills his will. In prison life there is no room to exercise one's will. To possess one's own will in prison means surely to get into trouble. The will of the prisoner must be killed, and it is killed. Still less is there room for exercising one's natural sympathies, everything being done to destroy free contact with those outside the prison, and within it with whom the prisoner may have feelings of sympathy. Physically and mentally he is rendered less and less prepared for sustained effort; and if he had formerly a dislike for regular work, this dislike is only the more increased during his prison years. If, before he first came to prison, he soon felt tired by monotonous work, which he could not do properly, or had a grudge against underpaid overwork, his dislike now becomes hatred. If he doubted about the social utility of current rules of morality, now, after having cast a critical glance upon the official defenders of these rules, and learned his comrades' opinions of them, he openly casts the rules overboard. And if he has got into trouble in consequence of a morbid development of the passionate sensual side of his nature, now after having spent a number of years in prison, this morbid character is still more developed-in many cases to an appalling extent. In this last direction-the most dangerous of all-prison education is most effective."

Prince Peter Kropotkin

In Russian and French Prison 1887



"Wherever anyone is against his will, that to him is a prison.
Epictetus (2nd c.)


"The general public knows practically nothing about the prison and appears to be little concerned about how it is managed and prisoners are treated."

Eugene V. Debs

Walls & Bars (1927)


"A community is infinitely more brutalized by the habitual employment of punishment than….by the occasional occurrence of crime."

Oscar Wilde


"The reformative effect of punishment is a belief that dies hard, chiefly I think, because it is so satisfying to our sadistic impulses."

Bertrand Russell

Ideas that harmed Mankind


   "The goal of this entire deplorable criminal process is punishment. Punishment takes the form of imprisonment-for longer and longer periods of time and under conditions that have grown steadily worse as overcrowding and cutbacks on care have made prisons into places of cruelty and horror. Incarceration today often means suffering repeated rapes and sexual assaults by other prisoners. The prison authorities do nothing to stop these attacks, which reportedly number in the hundreds of thousands annually. Outside of prison, rape and sexual assault are considered heinous crimes. Inside, they are part of the punishment. If a judge said," I sentence you to be sexually assaulted on a daily basis" it would be plainly unconstitutional. Yet that is exactly what judges are sentencing many prisoners to endure-without taking responsibility for doing so. Overcrowding, neglect of prisoners' health, and the failure to prevent violence by prisoners against other prisoners have become de facto forms of punishment which could never pass constitutional muster but continue because the U.S. Supreme Court has cut off almost all avenues by which prisoners can have their rights adjudicated. And many prisoners suffering this form of unconstitutional punishment have not all been convicted of any crime. The Supreme Court has approved " preventive detention"-a flagrantly unconstitutional practice-of a growing number of persons including juveniles, who are awaiting trial and may well be found innocent. Sometimes an accused person spends several years in prison only to be found not guilty-but this person has been punished and perhaps irrevocably damaged nevertheless."

Charles A Reich

Opposing the System


"punishment was not imposed because one held the wrong-doer responsible for his deed, thus not on the presupposition that only the guilty one should be punished; rather, as parents still punish their children, from anger at some harm or injury, vented on the one who caused it-but this anger is held in check and modified by the idea that every injury has its equivalent and can actually be paid back, even if only through the pain of the culprit. And whence did this primeval, deeply rooted, perhaps by now ineradicable idea draw its power-this idea of an equivalence between injury and pain? I have already divulged it: in the contractual relationship between creditor and debtor, which is as old as the idea of "legal subjects" and in turn points back to the fundamental forms of buying, selling, barter, trade, and traffic."


   "Lev Tolstoi was right when he dreamed of being in prison. At a certain moment that giant began to dry up. He actually needed prison as a drought needs a shower of rain!

   All the writers who wrote about prison but who did not themselves serve time there considered it their duty to express sympathy for prisoners and to curse prison I....have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation:

               "Bless you ,prison, for having been in my life!"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Incarceration rates in George W. Bush's America and Stalin's U.S.S.R.

U.S.S.R. (1950)      1,423 per 100,000

U.S.A. (2002)         2,298 per 100,000

Incarceration rate of black men in South Africa before ANC rule and in contemporary America

South Africa (1993)   851 per 100,000

USA (2002)              7,150 per 100,000

(Sources: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Prison Policy Initiative, "The International Use of Incarceration" by Marc Mauer

Book: "Prison Nation: The Warehousing of America's Poor" by Routledge






See: "I know why the Cajun Bird Sings" Harpers Mag….July 2000

Book: "Lockdown America" by Christian Parenti

Book: "An Expensive way to make Bad People Worse" by Jens Soering

Book:  "The History of Punishment and Torture" by Karen Farmington

Book: "Encyclopedia of American Prisons" Ed by M.D. McShane & F.P. Williams III

Book: "A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution 1750-1850" by Michael Ignatieff

Book: "Why Punish? " by Nigel Walker

Book: "The History of Punishment" by Lewis Lyons

Book: "Bentham's Prison: A Study of the Panopticon Penitentiary" by Janet Semple

Book: "Miracle At Sing Sing: How One Man Transformed the Lives of America's Most Dangerous Prisoners" by Ralph Bjumenthal

Book: "Punishment and Responsibility: Essays on the Philosophy of Law" H. L. A. Hart

Book: "Writers in Prison" by Ioan Davies

Book: "Our Enemies In Blue: Police and Power in America" by Kristian Williams

Book: "A Prison Diary" by Jeffrey Archer

Book: "You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish" by Jimmy Lerner

Book: "The Killing State: Capital Punishment in Law, Politics and Culture" Ed. by Austin Sarat

Book: "Keeping Up with he Dow Joneses: Debt, Prison, Workfare" by Vijay Prashad

Book: "Inside Rikers: Stories from the World's Largest Penal Colony" by Jennifer Wynn

Book: "The Last Face You'll Ever See: The Private Life of the American Death Penalty" by Ivan Solotaroff

Book: "American Gulag: Inside U.S. Immigration Prisons" by Mark Dow

Book: "Notorious Prisons: An Inside Look at the World's Most Feared Institutions" by Scott Christianson

Book: "Gulag" by Anne Applebaum

Book: "The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in a North Korean Gulag" by K. Chol-Iwan & P. Rigoulot


© 2001



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