Black Rose Books
With an introduction by George Woodcock.
Nearly a century has passed since Kropotkin wrote In Russian and French Prisons, yet his criticisms of the penal system have lost none of their relevance. Prisons- far from reforming the offender, or deterring crime- are, in themselves, "schools of crime". Every year, thousands of prisoners are returned to society without hope, without a trade, or without nay means of subsistence, and statistics show that once a man has been in prison he is likely to return. Moreover, the new offense is likely to be more serious than the first.
Although Kropotkin makes extensive use of the memoirs of former prisoners and the works of contemporary penologists, it is his own experience in prison--he spent five years behind bars, two in Russia, three in France--that gives this book its power. He shows from first hand knowledge the immense human suffering caused by prison life: how it destroys the mind and body, how it degrades and humiliates, how it perverts the prisoner's character and robs him of his dignity, how it reduces him to the condition of a caged animal, how his whole life is subjected to a deadly mechanical routine, how everything is done to break his spirit and kill his inner strength.
In Russian and French Prisons is the 6th volume of The Collected Works of Peter Kropotkin.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the 1991 edition by George Woodcock
Author's preface to the Russian edition (1906)
I. My first acquaintance with Russian prisons
II. Russian prisons
III. The fortress of St. Peter and St. Paul
IV. Outcast Russia
V. The exile in Siberia
VI. The exile of Sakhalin
VII. A foreigner in Russian prisons
VIII. In French prisons
IX. On the moral influence of prisons on prisoners
X. Are prisons necessary?
Appendix A- Trial of the Soldiers accused of having carried Letters from Alexis Ravelin
Appendix B- On the part played by the Exiles in the Colonization of Siberia
Appendix C- Extract from a Report on "Administrative Exile," read by M. Shakeeff at the Sitting of the St. Petersburg Nobility on February 17, 1881
Appendix D- On Reformatories for Boys in France
1991: 387 pages, index