Inspiring quotes by Jack Henry Abbott

Top 10 most inspiring quotes by Jack Henry Abbott

  • Paranoia is an illness I contracted in institutions. It is not the reason for my sentences to reform school and prison. It is the effect, not the cause.
  • When they talk of ghosts of the dead who wander in the night with things still undone in life, they approximate my subjective experience of this life.
  • The only time they appear human is when you have a knife at their throats. The instant you remove it, they fall back into animality. Obscenity.
  • Imagine a thousand more such daily intrusions in your life, every hour and minute of every day, and you can grasp the source of this paranoia, this anger that could consume me at any moment if I lost control.
  • Because there is something helpless and weak and innocent – something like an infant – deep inside us all that really suffers in ways we would never permit an insect to suffer.
  • Everyone in prison has an ideal of violence, murder. Beneath all relationships between prisoners is the ever-present fact of murder. It ultimately defines our relationship among ourselves.
  • That is how prison is tearing me up inside. It hurts every day. Every day takes me further from my life.
  • I’ve wanted somehow to convey to you the sensations – the atmospheric pressure, you might say – of what it is to be seriously a long-term prisoner in an American prison.
  • The part of me which wanders through my mind and never sees or feels actual objects, but which lives in and moves through my passions and my emotions, experiences this world as a horrible nightmare.
  • I cannot be critical of an infant whose only possible source of nourishment can be found in the dugs of a wolf.
Jack Henry Abbott

Jack Henry Abbott was an American writer and criminal born on January 21, 1944, in Oscoda, Michigan, United States. His life was marked by a troubled upbringing and a series of criminal activities. Abbott grew up in various correctional facilities and spent most of his youth in and out of juvenile detention centers and prisons.

While incarcerated, Abbott discovered his passion for writing and literature. He educated himself extensively and corresponded with numerous intellectuals, writers, and public figures, including author Norman Mailer. Impressed by Abbott’s intelligence and writing ability, Mailer supported his efforts to secure parole and helped him publish his prison writings.

In 1981, Abbott was granted parole after serving over half of his sentence for forgery and bank robbery. Following his release, he published his memoir titled “In the Belly of the Beast,” which garnered critical acclaim for its vivid depiction of prison life. The book caught the attention of the literary world, and Abbott was hailed as a talented and insightful writer.

Despite his newfound literary success, Abbott’s life outside prison was marred by further troubles. Only six weeks after his release, he fatally stabbed Richard Adan, a waiter, during an altercation in a New York City restaurant. The incident raised questions about the parole system and Abbott’s readiness for reintegration into society.

Abbott was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. While in prison for the second time, he continued to write and correspond with various individuals, but his literary career never reached the same heights as before.

On February 10, 2002, Jack Henry Abbott died by suicide in his prison cell at Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, at the age of 58. His life and writings remain controversial, with debates surrounding the criminal justice system, prison reform, and the responsibilities of the literary community towards incarcerated individuals.

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