Cesare Beccaria: Essay on Crimes and Punishments

I think I had heard of this man Beccaria at some point, but I have just had to read his essay on crime and punishment for my European history survey class and I am very impressed by it. Especially since it was written in 1764!

The essay.

Some good quotes from it:

“No man ever gave up his liberty merely for the good of the public. Such a chimera exists only in romances. Every individual wishes, if possible, to be exempt from the compacts that bind the rest of mankind.”

“The end of punishment, therefore, is no other than to prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society, and to prevent others from committing the like offence. Such punishments, therefore, and such a mode of inflicting them, ought to be chosen, as will make the strongest and most lasting impressions on the minds of others, with the least torment to the body of the criminal.”

“Crimes are more effectually prevented by the certainty than the severity of punishment.”

“Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves?”

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