But public order will not disappear along with the executioner; never believe that. The vault of future society will not collapse for lack of that monstrous keystone. Civilisation is no more than a series of transformations. So what is it you are about to witness? The transformation of the system of punishment. The gentle law of Christ will finally penetrate thee penal code and extend its influence across it. Crime will be seen as a disease, and this disease will have doctors instead of judges, hospitals instead of penal colonies. Liberty and health will be the same thing. Balm and oil will be poured on where once steel and fire were applied. The evil that was treated with charity. It will be simple and sublime. The cross in place of the gallows. That is all.
Preface to Victor Hugo's The Last Day of a Condemned Man.
Just started this today, it is written as a diary of a prisoner preparing for his execution - and a plea for the abolition of the death penalty, equally as relevant today as when it was written - 1829.