Of Crimes and Punishments
From a young Italian philosopher came perhaps the most significant essay on criminal law: Cesare Beccaria's Of Crimes and Punishments. It was immediately acclaimed by the international community of scholars, philosophers, salon crowds, statesmen, and even monarchs.
Praised by Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson (who quoted Beccaria in his inaugural address), and in Europe, by Bentham and Voltaire, Beccaria's treatise is a systematic analysis of the issues that ought to inspire a sound judicial system: an emphasis on crime prevention, prompt punishment, and the nature of the death penalty as a non-deterrent - and, above all the belief in the "greatest happiness for the greatest number" of people.
Of Crimes and Punishments was not only read, discussed, and questioned by the best minds of the time, but was instrumental in bringing about actual legislative reforms.
With a foreword by Mario Cuomo and an introduction by leading criminologist Marvin E. Wolfgang, Of Crimes and Punishments shows how the cogent arguments carried forward from two centuries ago are still relevant to the contemporary debates on crime and punishment.
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