Vincentian Collections > The Story > Chapter 6
When one views this prison from the outside with its somber entrance way and its dark walls seemingly stained by the leprosy of vice, one is disposed to believe that there is surely no exaggeration in the horrible stories published about this place. Under these circumstances anyone would be surprised to find within these walls large walkways which rival tranquil country roads; and behind its high walls a tranquil and calm garden filled with beautiful trees. This prison, which is assumed by so many to be so defective is infinitely more happy, more healthy, and above all more charitable than all the others.
It is impossible for one to write too violently against Saint-Lazare prison. One cannot speak out enough against the survival of this leprosy in the heart of Paris. One cannot protest enough against the ignoble tactics that are employed by the jailers, nor against their crying injustices, nor against the scandalous abuses, nor against the revolting exploitation of the detainees. One cannot say enough about the insolence and brutality of the guards. One cannot say enough against the promiscuity and the vermin that infest the dormitories; let alone the repulsive filth of the hallways and cells. One cannot cry out loudly enough against this house of detention which is not only the foyer of all vices, but also that of tuberculosis.
I speak in order to seek a more just humanity, to demand an equal sharing…that will establish the equilibrium necessary to maintain social order, that will facilitate fraternal understanding and solidarity, and diminish considerable the number of evildoers…Abolish poverty and you will abolish the prisons.