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On Crimes and Punishments (1764)

by Cesare Beccaria

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The first critical analysis of capital punishment that demanded its abolition. Beccaria also argued against torture, believing it was cruel and unnecessary.

It was translated into French in 1766 and published with an anonymous commentary by Voltaire. An English translation appeared in 1767, and it was translated into several other languages. The book was read by all the luminaries of the day, including, in the United States, by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

The book's principles influenced thinking on criminal justice and punishment of offenders, leading to reforms in Europe, especially in France and at the court of Catherine II of Russia. In England, Beccaria's ideas fed into the writings on punishment of Sir William Blackstone (selectively), and more wholeheartedly those of William Eden and Jeremy Bentham. The reforms he had advocated led to the abolition of the death penalty in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the first state in the world to take this measure. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Aug 28, 2021 |
On Crimes and Punishment, Cesare Beccaria argues for different punishments.
He starts with a famous quote,

"Every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity is tyrannical." -- Montesquieu

Laws are conditions under which Men are united.
Punishments are necessities to defend public liberty.

Beccaria writes on all types of crimes, including Adultery, Suicide and Sodomy.
How do you convict Suicide? After all, the person has died.

It seemed that he has a strong case to argue for most of crimes and punishment.
One quote which I loved was, "The Laws is greater than of those by whom they are violated, the risk of torturing an innocent person is greater."

I imagine for death penalty, torture, the risk of inflicting pain on innocent people is greater. As I was learning about death penalty in the United States, they abolished it around 1850's - 1890's due to a lot of pressure from Social Justice groups. A few states still have death penalty.

During the late 1800s, Some people find it entertaining when someone was hanged in public. They would drink in public while watching execution. Now these are not in the book.

Overall a great introduction to Crimes and Punishment.

Deus Vult
--Gottfried--
( )
  gottfried_leibniz | Apr 5, 2018 |
On Crimes and Punishment, Cesare Beccaria argues for different punishments.
He starts with a famous quote,

"Every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity is tyrannical." -- Montesquieu

Laws are conditions under which Men are united.
Punishments are necessities to defend public liberty.

Beccaria writes on all types of crimes, including Adultery, Suicide and Sodomy.
How do you convict Suicide? After all, the person has died.

It seemed that he has a strong case to argue for most of crimes and punishment.
One quote which I loved was, "The Laws is greater than of those by whom they are violated, the risk of torturing an innocent person is greater."

I imagine for death penalty, torture, the risk of inflicting pain on innocent people is greater. As I was learning about death penalty in the United States, they abolished it around 1850's - 1890's due to a lot of pressure from Social Justice groups. A few states still have death penalty.

During the late 1800s, Some people find it entertaining when someone was hanged in public. They would drink in public while watching execution. Now these are not in the book.

Overall a great introduction to Crimes and Punishment.

Deus Vult
--Gottfried--
( )
  gottfried_leibniz | Apr 5, 2018 |
préface de casamayor
  lsuj | Feb 24, 2015 |
On the subject of the Criminal law, all were agreed that the punishment of death should be abolished, except for treason and murder, and that, for other felonies should be substituted hard labor in the public works, and in some cases the Lex talionis. ... Beccaria, and other writers on crimes and punishments had satisfied the reasonable world of the unrightfulness and inefficacy of the punishment of crimes by death; and hard labor on roads, canals and other public works, had been suggested as a proper substitute. — Thomas Jefferson's Autobiography

I recommend Beccaria on crimes & punishments [among other books on political economy] because of the demonstrative manner in which he has treated that branch of the subject. — Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 11 June 1807
  ThomasJefferson | Sep 10, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (27 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Beccaria, Cesareprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Casas, Juan Antonio de lasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delval, Juan AntonioIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morellet, A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paolucci, HenryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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