What is the source of this Dostoevsky quote?
October 27, 2006 5:59 PM   Subscribe

What is the sources of this quote attributed to Dostoevsky? "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."

I see this a lot, but where does it come from? Is it from one his literary works? His notes? Was he quoted as saying it? I can't seem to find an answer via The Google.
posted by Stauf to Writing & Language (8 answers total)
One source (found in Google Books) attributes it to 'The House of the Dead', which itself does not have a full preview in Google Books, nor do I quickly see the full-text in English online.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:08 PM on October 27, 2006

Previously. Bartleby says it's unverified, and unfortunately we can no longer read Miko's article.
posted by sbutler at 7:01 PM on October 27, 2006

Also, I tried getting the article through LexisNexis or (long shot) JStor, but no luck.
posted by sbutler at 7:17 PM on October 27, 2006

It sounds like something Durkheim might say in relation to mechanical solidarity vs. organic solidarity in society and how they relate to forms of punishment, but damn its been a long time since my sociology of law class so I could be COMPLETELY wrong.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:03 PM on October 27, 2006

According to this Bartleby page, Rutherford B. Hayes is credited with a similar quotation (which, of course, he may have adapted from an earlier one):
One of the tests of the civilization of people is the treatment of its criminals.
posted by rob511 at 9:26 PM on October 27, 2006

I have also heard it (or a very similarly worded sentiment) attributed to Winston Churchill.
posted by hazelshade at 9:41 PM on October 27, 2006

I've also heard it quoted as being by Churchill - before I clicked through the links I assumed it was misattributed to Disraeli.
posted by greycap at 10:02 PM on October 27, 2006

Dostoevsky, even... bah - too early.
posted by greycap at 10:03 PM on October 27, 2006

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