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quotations about crime

The man that does not fear punishment, little regards crime.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation.


For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists.

ALBERT CAMUS, Resistance, Rebellion and Death

The crime and not the scaffold makes the shame.


Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.


All men have crimes, and most of them are hidden.


If a man should wanton walk with crime ... he shall find in death no great deliverance.

AESCHYLUS, The Eumenides

Many writers claim that nearly all crime is caused by economic conditions, or in other words that poverty is practically the whole cause of crime. Endless statistics have been gathered on this subject which seem to show conclusively that property crimes are largely the result of the unequal distribution of wealth. But crime of any class cannot be safely ascribed to a single cause. Life is too complex, heredity is too variant and imperfect, too many separate things contribute to human behavior, to make it possible to trace all actions to a single cause.

CLARENCE DARROW, Crime: Its Cause and Treatment

Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.


Crime is a logical extension of the sort of behaviour that is often considered perfectly respectable in legitimate business.

ROBERT RICE, The Business of Crime

Crime and bad lives are the measure of a State’s failure, all crime in the end is the crime of the community.

H.G. WELLS, A Modern Utopia

There is no such crime as a crime of thought; there are only crimes of action.

CLARENCE DARROW, Clarence Darrow for the Defense

Crime is naught but misdirected energy. So long as every institution of today, economic, political, social, and moral, conspires to misdirect human energy into wrong channels; so long as most people are out of place doing the things they hate to do, living a life they loathe to live, crime will be inevitable, and all the laws on the statutes can only increase, but never do away with, crime.

EMMA GOLDMAN, Anarchism, What it Really Stands For

He who helps the guilty, shares the crime.


Commit a crime and the world is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, "Compensation," Essays

Crime is to man as fleas are to dog, the likelihood of its presence increases as the quality of one's personal circumstances decreases.

JEROME P. CRABB, Crime Quotes and Quibbles

What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY, Crime and Punishment

Crime is a fact of the human species, a fact of that specieas alone, but it is above all the secret aspect, impenetrable and hidden. Crime hides, and by far the most terrifying things are those which elude us.

GEORGES BATAILLE, The Trial of Gilles de Rais

It is indeed strange that with all the knowledge we have gained in the past hundred years we preserve and practice the methods of an ancient and barbarous world in our dealing with crime. So long as this is observed and exercised there can be no change except to heap more cruelties and more wretchedness upon those who are the victims of our foolish system.

CLARENCE DARROW, The Story of My Life

Criminals are dumb as stumps. If they were smart they could go be investment bankers. Or judges.

Black Jack Point

There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime--namely, repressive justice.

SIMONE WEIL, "Human Personally"

Crime has always been a regrettably consistent element of the human experience.

MARK FROST, The List of Seven

Crimes exalted into laws become therefore the more odious; just as the false gods of heathenism, when set up of old on the altar of Jehovah, shocked his true worshippers the more by usurping so conspicuously the honors due to him alone.


Crime is as much a condition as an intention.

LEWIS F. KORNS, Thoughts

I think crime pays. The hours are good, you meet a lot of interesting people, you travel a lot.

WOODY ALLEN, Take the Money and Run

Pardon one offence and you encourage the commission of many.


When a man, before innocent, commits crime, he passes, by a sudden transition, into a new world. The significance of all objects around him is changed; the laws of association in his own mind are changed; a viper is born in his breast which stings and goads him. Sounds that he never heard before ring in his ears; a violated conscience turns avenger and scourger;--the foe is within him. Were it merely an external enemy, assaulting the criminal from without, perhaps he might be fled from, resisted, bribed, or would at last remit his inflictions through very weariness of tormenting. But not so with the consciousness of wrong.... It will not sleep, nor tire, nor relent.


There are crimes that, like frost on flowers, in one single night destroy character and reputation.

HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Few criminals die sensible of their crimes.

NORMAN MACDONALD, Maxims and Moral Reflections

What a position of transcendent horror must that be, where the perpetrator of a great crime, till then a stranger to positive guilt, finds himself suddenly cut off, and forever, from all human sympathy, isolated from hope, the tenant of a solitary cell, and with a wide, impassable gulf yawning between him and that great brotherhood of which he has ceased to be a part--no longer regarded as a man, but as a monster in the shape of one, from whom Mercy herself turns away, and for whom Pity even has no tears!

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought

There are crimes which become innocent, and even glorious, through their splendor, number, and excess: Hence it is, that public theft is called Address, and to seize on Provinces unjustly, to make Conquests.


No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been.

HANNAH ARENDT, epilogue, Eichmann in Jerusalem

He confesses his crime who flees the tribunal.

PUBLILIUS SYRUS, The Moral Sayings of Publilius Syrus

From each crime are born bullets
that will one day seek out in you
where the heart lies.

PABLO NERUDA, "I Explain a Few Things"


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