Site Loader
Rock Street, San Francisco

& # 8217 ; s Work Essay, Research Paper


The Death Penalty and Criticisms of Beccaria & # 8217 ; s work

Troy K. Prichett

University of Alabama


The intent of this paper is to discourse Beccaria & # 8217 ; s On Crimes and Punishments,

with accent on Beccaria & # 8217 ; s positions on the decease punishment and the many unfavorable judgments

that surrounds his work. Beccaria had utmost positions against the decease punishment,

but he contradicted his positions several times. This led to the unfavorable judgment of his work

and many of his positions of society of the Enlightenment period. There were some

who said the Beccaria did non compose On Crimes and Punishment, this along with

other unfavorable judgments will be address below.

The Death Penalty and Criticisms of Beccaria & # 8217 ; s Work

The intent of this paper is to discourse the decease punishment and the many

unfavorable judgments environing Cesare Beccaria & # 8217 ; s On Crimes and Punishments. Identify

points in Beccaria & # 8217 ; s life harmonizing to Adler, Mueller, and Laufer ( 2000 ) :

Cesare Bonesana, Marchese di Beccaria ( 1738-1794 ) , was instead insignificant as a pupil. After graduating with a jurisprudence grade from the University of Pavia, he returned place to Milan and joined a group of articulate and extremist intellectuals. Disenchanted with modern-day Europeans society, they organized themselves into the academy of fists, one of many immature work forces & # 8217 ; s nines that flourished in Italy as the clip. Their intent was to detect what reforms would be needed to overhaul Italian society. In March 1763 Beccaria was assigned to fix a study on the prison system. Pietro Verri, the caput of the academy of fists, encouraged him to read the plants of English and Gallic philosophers-David Hume ( 1711-1776 ) , John Locke ( 1632-1704 ) , Claude Adrien Helvetius ( 1715-1771 ) , Voltaire ( 1694-1778 ) , Montesquieu ( 1685-1755 ) , and Jean-Jacques Rousseau ( 1712-1778 ) . Another member of the academy, the defender of prisons, revealed to him the inhumanenesss that were possible under the pretense of societal control. Beccaria learned good. He read, observed, and made notes on little garbages of paper. These notes, Harry Elmer Barnes has observed, were destined to & # 8220 ; assure to its writer immortality and would work a revolution in the moral universe & # 8221 ; upon their publication in July 1764 under the rubric Dei delitti e delle pene ( On Crimes and Punishment ) . Beccaria presented a coherent, comprehensive designs for an enlightened condemnable justness system that was function the people instead than the monarchy. ( p. 62-63 ) After On Crimes and Punishment was published Beccaria was considered the laminitis of Classical school of Criminology.

The Death punishment

The decease punishment besides known as capital penalty is being put to decease for perpetrating a offense. Beccaria ( 1764/1963 ) views the decease punishment as a & # 8220 ; . . . useless extravagance of tortures, which has ne’er made adult male better. . . . & # 8221 ; The intent of penalty is to discourage offense, but when that penalty exceeds what is necessary to discourage offense it becomes unfair, harmonizing to Beccaria. What can warrant the executing of one of societies citizens? How can we find if the penalty of the offense should be decease? Are at that place any offense that are justified by the violent death of a human being? These are some inquiries that Beccaria ( 1764/1963 ) replies:

There are merely two possible motivations for believing that the decease of a citizen is necessary. The first: when it is apparent even if deprived of autonomy he still has connexions and power such as endanger the security of the nation-when, that is, his being can bring forth a unsafe revolution in the constituted signifier of authorities. The decease of a citizen therefore becomes necessary when a state is retrieving or losing its Liberty or, in clip of lawlessness, when upsets themselves take the topographic point of Torahs. . . . I see no necessity for destructing a citizen, except if his decease were the lone existent manner of keeping others from perpetrating offenses ; this is the 2nd motivation for believing that the decease punishment may be merely and necessary. ( P. 46 )

So merely in utmost state of affairss the decease punishment can be merely and necessary. But during the enlightenment period when Torahs were difficult to construe and most people in society could non understand or did non cognize the jurisprudence ; how could we so warrant the decease punishment if society was non certain about the jurisprudence or the penalty of offense. Harmonizing to Beccaria ( 1764/1963 ) & # 8220 ; If the reading of Torahs is an evil, another immorality, obviously, is the obscureness that makes reading necessary. . . . written in a linguistic communication that its foreign to a people. . . & # 8221 ; Therefore if society is confused about the jurisprudence and the penalty that one might acquire for interrupting the jurisprudence, so how can it be an effectual hindrance? If disincentive is the whole ground for penalty so wouldn & # 8217 ; t it be more effectual if society knew the jurisprudence and the penalty. If the decease punishment is an unsure penalty and the continuance between perpetrating the offense and penalty, so that in itself makes the decease punishment ineffective for others that witness the executing, because the see the long delay before being punished. Beccaria ( 1764/1963 ) stated & # 8220 ; With the decease punishment, every illustration given to the state presupposes a new offense ; with the punishment of a life-time of servitude a individual offense supplies frequent and permanent illustrations. And if it be of import that work forces often observe the power of the Torahs, penal executings ought non to be s

eparated by long intervals. . .” Johnson and Wolfe ( 1996 ) stated “Law should be adapted to the people for whom they were made and see both the wellness and stableness of society.” Thus when composing jurisprudence for the people don’t write over the people.


There are many unfavorable judgments of Beccaria & # 8217 ; s work, some that argue he

did non compose or even that he plagiarized the essay. Harmonizing to Newman ( 1990 )

One is a intuition that Beccaria did non compose the papers, but the truth of this accusal turns on what is meant by the word & # 8221 ; write. & # 8221 ; . . . Our conjecture is that Beccaria had put down notes ensuing from the many treatments he had with the Verris and their visitants about the condemnable jurisprudence, . . . so urged Beccaria to set these garbages together into a book. Beccaria seemingly spent a long clip seeking to make that, without carry throughing really much. Finally, Pietro Verri collected the assorted pieces and form and into an essay. so, whether Beccaria & # 8220 ; wrote & # 8221 ; the pacts is hard to say. ( P. 330-331 )

Their are some that say Beccaria did likely compose the essay every bit Verris as an editor.

Some other unfavorable judgments of Beccaria essay were its contradictions, such as his useful positions. Harmonizing to Adler, Mueller, and Laufer ( 2000 ) & # 8220 ; Utilitarianism a scientific discipline that all human actions are calculated in conformity with their likeliness of conveying felicity ( pleasance ) or unhappiness ( hurting ) . Peoples weigh the chances of present and future pleasances against those of present and future pain. & # 8221 ; Beccaria & # 8217 ; s ( 1764/1963 ) useful positions are contradicted in his last sentence, & # 8220 ; In order for penalty non to be, in every case, an act of force of one or of many against a private citizen, it must be basically public, prompt, necessary, the least possible in the given fortunes, proportionate to the offenses, dictated by the laws. & # 8221 ;

However, it is contradicted by the useful position that the hurting of the penalty must outweigh the pleasance of the discourtesy. This is in fact what is hidden by Beccaria & # 8217 ; s usage of the words & # 8220 ; least possible & # 8221 ; and & # 8220 ; necessary. & # 8221 ; What is the necessary status for punishment-the breakage of a jurisprudence? Retributivists would state so. But utilitarians, who are frontward looking, are interested in forestalling future offenses. ( Newman and Marongiu 1990 p. 335 )

This useful position were besides noted in Johnson and Wolfe ( 1996 ) & # 8220 ; Punishments served a useful intent ; they were to deter future condemnable activity, both by the convicted individual and by those who witnessed his chastisement. & # 8221 ;

Beccaria was besides criticized for his utmost positions on the decease punishment. He argued against the decease punishment, that a sentence of bondage was more sever and therefore a greater hindrance than decease. Their were many unfavorable judgments of this position ; because bondage was another manner of bring downing decease. & # 8220 ; This was particularly so when clip was served in ships & # 8217 ; galleys. In fact, galley bondage was considered appropriate for a & # 8220 ; capital offense. & # 8221 ; It is non clear, hence, how & # 8220 ; absolute & # 8221 ; Beccaria & # 8217 ; s resistance to the decease punishment was, since many would decease as a consequence of the penalties he proposed. & # 8221 ; ( Newman and Marongiu, 1990 ) His statement was that a sentence of bondage was a greater hindrance, because of the hurting that was inflicted. It is difficult to see how this was a more hindrance because their was sufficient hurting inflicted with both bondage and the decease punishment. & # 8220 ; We can see that his statements here profoundly belie his old claims to recommend mild penalties. In fact, he had argued in other parts of the Treatise that harsh penalties worked against disincentive. His lone response to this unfavorable judgment could be that penal bondage was less rough than decease as so inflicted, yet his statement was the opposite. & # 8221 ; ( Newman and Marongiu, 1990 ) Harmonizing to Beccaria ( 1764/1963 ) & # 8220 ; It is non the strength of penalty that has the greatest consequence on the human spirit, but its continuance, for our esthesia is more easy and more for good affected by little but repeated feelings than by a powerful but fleeting action. & # 8221 ; With is statement it is easy to see how Beccaria contidicts himself, but still do a really powerful statement.

Cesare Beccaria was known as the male parent of the modern criminology, But his positions and his book On Crimes and Punishments was widely criticized by other who studied in the same field. & # 8220 ; A critical assessment of the substance of On Crimes and Punishments is hard to do, because it is a document full of many of obscurenesss and contradictions ( which become worse when translated into English ) . The vagueness of many of the footings used and the degree of generalization of the papers makes it hard to trap down the substance. Some say that its this degree of generalization that constitutes its genius. & # 8221 ; ( Newman and Marongiu, 1990 ) Even though Beccaria was widely criticized his positions have been shared for many coevalss and will go on to determine and model future coevalss.



Adler, F. , Mueller, G. O. W. , & A ; Laufer. W. S. ( 2001 ) . Criminology. ( 4th ed. ) . New York: McGraw-Hill.

Beccaria, C. ( 1963 ) . On offenses and penalty ( H. Paolucci, Trans. ) . New York: Macmillan. ( Original work published 1764 ) .

Johnson, H. , & A ; Wolfe, N. ( 1996 ) . The Enlightenment and condemnable justness. History of condemnable justness. Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Company.

Newman, G. , & A ; Marongiu, P. ( 1990 ) . Penological reform and the myth of Beccaria. Criminology, 28, 325-346.

Post Author: admin