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Every crime is born of necessity. If you want less crime, you must change the conditions. Poverty makes crime. Want, rags, crusts, misfortune - all these awake the wild beast in man, and finally he takes, and takes contrary to law, and becomes a criminal. And what do you do with him? You punish him. Why not punish a man for having consumption? The time will come when you will see that that is just as logical. What do you do with the criminal? You send him to the penitentiary. Is he made better? Worse. The first thing you do is to try to trample out his manhood, by putting an indignity upon him. You mark him. You put him in stripes. At night you put him in darkness. His feeling for revenge grows. You make a wild beast of him, and he comes out of that place branded in body and soul, and then you won't let him reform if he wants to.
Robert G. Ingersoll (more quotes by Robert G. Ingersoll or books by/about Robert G. Ingersoll)
(1833-1899) American lawyer, Civil War veteran, political leader, orator of United States during the Golden Age of Free Thought, nicknamed "The Great Agnostic"
A Lay Sermon, 1886
Crime, Dignity, Poverty, Punishment