I imagine that the confession of a criminal, which in some tribunals is required, as being essential to his condemnation, has a similar origin, and has been taken from the mysterious tribunal of penitence, where the confession of sins is a necessary part of the sacrament.
These principles will displease those who have made it a rule with themselves, to transmit to their inferiors the tyranny they suffer from their superiors.
When the rule of right, which ought to direct the actions of the philosopher Essay crimes punishments well as the ignorant, is a matter of controversy, not of fact, the people are slaves to the magistrates. It would be superfluous to confirm these reflections by examples of innocent persons, who from the agony of torture have confessed themselves guilty: In the first case, reputation becomes useless from Edition: Weary of living in a continual state of war, and of enjoying a liberty which became of little value, from the uncertainty of its duration, they sacrificed one part of it to enjoy the rest in peace and security.
The credibility of a witness, then, should only diminish in proportion to the hatred, friendship, or connexions subsisting between him and the delinquent. The intent of good laws is to oppose Essay crimes punishments effort, and to diffuse their influence universally and equally.
By this knowledge commerce is animated, and there has sprung up a spirit of emulation and industry worthy of rational beings.
Beccaria believed that people have a rational manner and apply it toward making choices that will help them achieve their own personal gratification.
If this were the true standard, Edition: The end of punishment, therefore, is no other, than to prevent others from committing the like offence. For in this case there are two parties, one represented by the sovereign, who insists upon the violation of the contract, and the other is the person accused, who denies it.
For this reason, I think it an excellent law which establishes assistants to the principal judge, and those chosen by lot; for that ignorance, which judges by its feelings, is less subject to error, than the knowledge of the laws which judges by opinion.
They err, therefore, who imagine that a crime is greater, or less, according to the intention of the person by whom it is committed; for this will depend on the actual impression of objects on the senses, and on the previous disposition of the mind; both which will vary in different persons, and even in the same person at different times, according to the succession of ideas, passions, and circumstances.
Secret accusations are a manifest abuse, but consecrated by custom in many nations, where, from the weakness of the government, they are necessary. This often involves punishment as a means of reforming the criminal, incapacitating him from repeating his crime, and deterring others.
The multiplication of mankind, though slow, being too great for the means which the earth, in its natural state, offered to satisfy necessities, which every day became more numerous, obliged men to separate again, and form new societies.
Much of its discussion focused on reforming the criminal justice system.
There was a time when all punishments were pecuniary. It is impossible to prevent entirely all the disorders which the passions of mankind cause in society.
Crimes of every kind should be less frequent, in proportion to the evil they produce to society If mathematical calculation could be applied to the obscure and infinite combinations of human actions, there might be a corresponding scale of punishments, descending from the greatest to the least; but it will be sufficient that the wise legislator mark the principal divisions, without disturbing the order, lest to crimes of the first degree, be assigned punishments of the last.
There is a remarkable difference between the civil laws, those jealous guardians of life and property, and the laws of, what is called, honour, which particularly respects the opinion of others.
The uncertainty of the extreme points of this scale, hath produced a system of morality which contradicts the laws; Edition: In it, Beccaria put forth some of the first modern arguments against the death penalty.
I say that motives of this kind are necessary; because experience shews that, the multitude adopt no established rules of conduct; and because, society is prevented from approaching to that dissolution to which, as well as all other parts of the physical and moral world, it naturally tends only by motives that are the immediate objects of sense, and which, being continually presented to the mind, are sufficient to counterbalance the effects of the passions of the individual which oppose the general good.
We may talk as we please of the corruption and degeneracy of the present age, but happily we see no such horrid examples of cruelty and oppression. Such may sometimes be the nature of circumstances, that when abuses are inherent in the constitution, it may be imagined, that to rectify them, would be to destroy the constitution itself.
The spirit of the laws will then be the result of the good or bad logic of the judge; and this will depend on his good or bad digestion; on the violence of his passions; on the rank and condition of the abused, or on his connections with the judge; and on all those circumstances which change the appearance of objects in the fluctuating mind of man.Dei delitti e delle pene.
English: An essay on crimes and punishments.
Written by the Marquis Beccaria, of Milan. With a commentary attributed to Monsieur de Voltaire.
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In the time of its writing, Beccaria’s propositions that onerous punishments like torture and execution were unnecessarily cruel, disproportionate, and unlikely to serve as effective deterrents were novel. AN ESSAY ON CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS.
CHAPTER I. OF THE ORIGIN OF PUNISHMENTS. Laws are the conditions under which men, naturally independent, united themselves in society. Weary of living in a continual state of war, and of enjoying a liberty which became of little.Download