October 01, 1999

The More Things Change ...

The following is an excerpt from the book, In Russian and French Prisons, by Peter Kropotkin, published in 1887, by Ward and Downey. If nothing else, it shows how little is new in Russia’s current crisis.


“... what shall we say of the penal institutions of Russia? The incredible duration of preliminary detention; the disgusting circumstances of prison life; the congregation of hundreds of prisoners into small and dirty chambers; the flagrant immorality of a corps of jailers who are practically omnipotent, whose whole function is to terrorize and oppress, and who rob their charges of the few coppers doled out to them by the State; the want of labor and the total absence of all that contributes to the moral welfare of man; the cynical contempt for human dignity, and the physical degradation of prisoners—these are the elements of prison life in Russia. 

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