Quotable quotes: Punishment


Those who will hold the balance between the benefits thus attributed to law and punishment and the degrading effect of the latter on humanity; those who will estimate the torrent of depravity poured abroad in human society by the informer, favored by the judge even, and paid for in clinking cash by governments, under the pretext of aiding to unmark crime; those who will go within prison walls and there see what human beings become when deprived of liberty, when subjected to the care of brutal keepers, to coarse, cruel words, to a thousand stinging piercing humiliations, will agree with us that the entire apparatus of prison and punishment is an abomination which ought to be brought to an end.

Peter Kropotkin

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

38 thoughts on “Quotable quotes: Punishment

  1. I vaguely remember Kropotkin from the days when I studied Bakunin. One of the compulsory elements of our (history) degree was The History of Political Thought. I’d never have chosen it, but it was very good. From Plato to Bakunin via Aquinas and Machiavelli.

    After that digression, I don’t remember this quote but it is a good one. While not denying it, I ask what else do you do with truly bad people? For example, murderers and rapists (outside the law) rather than bankers and politicians (above the law)?

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    • makagutu says:

      Emma Goldman quotes him in her book Anarchism and other essays.
      The question you ask doesn’t have easy answers. In a way society must protect itself from such persons. Does punishing them make them better people? I doubt it. Many by the end of their time in jail are worse than when they went in.
      Is the possibility of rehabilitation viable? I don’t know. All I know is punishment has failed to achieve the goal to which those who meted it thought it would.

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      • I’ve not read that, or if I have I don’t remember it. I found anarchism a fascinating topic. Not in the popular understanding of the word but as a societal concept.

        Of course not, or I could answer it myself πŸ˜€

        I was on a course with a prison governor (seemed a bit young to me for such a responsible job when all I was doing was acting as spokesperson for HM govt) and she made it very clear that her job was not about punishment, but about rehabilitation.

        Perhaps that, as society, is our problem, we want to punish, we want people to atone and repent. (We read too much bible!) as you say there are multiple factors here. Exclusion is one, but punishment is a very different issue. Do people ever respond well to punishment?

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        • makagutu says:

          There is this address by Clarence Darrow about crime.
          I agree with you, I think we have read religious books too many times and have become like their characters, we want to punish and condemn. We call them criminals and other such labels to make them less human so we can punish them without feeling bad about it. We give them numbers in prison so that we don’t see them as being human. That is part of the reason we have courts and jailhouses. To judge and punish men

          I especially like this part

          The only way in the world to abolish crime and criminals is to abolish the big ones and the little ones together. Make fair conditions of life. Give men a chance to live. Abolish the right of private ownership of land, abolish monopoly, make the world partners in production, partners in the good things of life. Nobody would steal if he could get something of his own some easier way. Nobody will commit burglary when he has a house full. No girl will go out on the streets when she has a comfortable place at home. The man who owns a sweatshop or a department store may not be to blame himself for the condition of his girls, but when he pays them five dollars, three dollars, and two dollars a week, I wonder where he thinks they will get the rest of their money to live. The only way to cure these conditions is by equality. There should be no jails. They do not accomplish what they pretend to accomplish. If you would wipe them out, there would be no more criminals than now. They terrorize nobody. They are a blot upon civilization, and a jail is an evidence of the lack of charity of the people on the outside who make the jails and fill them with the victims of their greed.

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  2. Double eek! Ask not as. I’ll go back to bed.

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  3. This reminds me of an article I recently read about Tennessee bringing back the electric chair for executions. A Representative was quoted saying something along the lines of “It’s God’s job to judge. Our’s is just to arrange the meeting.” My faith in humanity dropped a point.

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  4. john zande says:

    Some people must be removed from society. They forfeit their rights upon torturing animals and humans. Punishment, though, should be re-thought.

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  5. aguywithoutboxers says:

    The entire correctional system needs to be completely overhauled, from the upper echelons downward. The focus should be rehabilitation rather than degradation. Whether incarcerated or not, we need to offer alternatives to anti-social behavior that preserve a sense of self worth. A very good topic and excellent quote, my Nairobi brother. I hope the Sanctified One is recovering from his ice skating exploits! πŸ™‚

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    • makagutu says:

      I agree with you totally.
      The justice system, if we can ever call it that, serves no other purpose than to punish. It makes citizens worse than they were before they got there.
      Problem, no one listens to us who say we need to improve things

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  6. Sonel says:

    I would have loved to be judge and jury – like Stallone. “I am the law” *pulls mouth like Stallone did* in the movie ‘Judge Dredd. πŸ˜†

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  7. Aquileana says:

    Remarkable quote, It made me thinking Foucault ‘ s book “Veillir et punir” …
    Those words are so eloquent and describe well the Reality of judiciary systems as they alsolink to the way how political power works…Thanks for sharing…
    I hope you have a Great week ahead, my friend,
    Aquileana πŸ˜€

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  8. I almost wish the world would drop the idea of punishment completely. Rehabilitation should always be the goal, even if it doesn’t succeed in every case. The way that the rich and powerful are let off just proves that no government has any business punishing its citizens.

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    • makagutu says:

      I agree. The world’s justice penal systems ought to be given a fresh look in line with what we know about human nature. Rehabilitation should be the way to go

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