Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Prisons

By Emma Goldman

(Anarchist lecturer and writer; born in Russia, 1869; died, 1940)
 
YEAR after year the gates of prison hells return to the world an emaciated, deformed, will-less shipwrecked crew of humanity, with the Cain mark on their foreheads, their hopes crushed, all their natural inclinations thwarted. With nothing but hunger and inhumanity to greet them, these victims soon sink back into crime as the only possibility of existence. It is not at all an unusual thing to find men and women who have spent half their lives—nay, almost their entire existence—in prison. I know a woman on Blackwell’s Island, who has been in and out thirty-eight times; and through a friend I learn that a young boy of seventeen, whom he had nursed and cared for in the Pittsburgh penitentiary, had never known the meaning of liberty. From the reformatory to the penitentiary had been the path of this boy’s life, until, broken in body, he died a victim of social revenge. These personal experiences are substantiated by extensive data giving overwhelming proof of the futility of prisons as a means of deterrence or reform.  1
 
 
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