Vincentian Collections > The Story > Chapter 5
The prison of Saint-Lazare, especially devoted to female thieves and prostitutes, is daily visited by many ladies, whose charity, whose names, and whose social position, command universal respect. These ladies educated in the midst of the splendors of fortune-these ladies, properly belonging to the best society-come every week to pass long hours with the miserable prisoners of Saint-Lazare watching in these degraded souls for the least indication of an aspiration towards good, the least regret for a past criminal life, and encouraging the good tendencies, urging repentance, and, by the potent magic of the words, Duty, Honor, Virtue, withdrawing from time to time one of these abandoned, fallen, degraded, despised creatures, from the depths of utter pollution.
Once prisoners depart Saint-Lazare they find themselves alone on the streets of Paris. Sometimes these poor women leave only with the clothes on their backs, and almost always they leave without any money. Under these circumstances, even if they sincerely wish to rehabilitate themselves, because of their appearance they are not easily hired. They find nothing but scorn and rejection awaiting them, and most fall prey to recidivism and return to Saint-Lazare! Those that retain a germ of honesty have been known to throw themselves into the Seine.