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Amazing and revolutionary treatise. A must read for anyone interested in criminal justice. Beccaria writes the first essay critiquing the penal system in a clear, systematic, and logical way. Loved it!
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Page 146 - It is better to prevent crimes, than to punish them. This is the fundamental principle of good legislation, which is the art of conducting men to the maximum of happiness, and to the minimum of misery, if we may apply this mathematical expression to the good and evil of life.
Page 102 - ... If the passions, or the necessity of war, have taught men to shed the blood of their fellow creatures, the laws; which are intended to moderate the ferocity of mankind, should not increase it by examples of barbarity, the more horrible as this punishment is usually attended with formal pa. geantry. Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves...
Page 225 - Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
Page 158 - In order for punishment not to be, in every instance, an act of violence of one or of many against a private citizen, it must be essentially public, prompt, necessary, the least possible in the given circumstances, proportionate to the crimes, dictated by the laws.
Page 35 - Of the Division of Crimes. We have proved then, that crimes are to be estimated by the injury done to society. This is one of those palpable truths which though evident to the meanest capacity, yet by a combination of circumstances, are only known to a few thinking men in every nation, and in every age. But opinions, worthy only of the despotism of Asia, and passions, armed with power and authority, have, generally by insensible, and sometimes by violent impressions on the timid credulity of men,...
Page 156 - To show mankind, that crimes are sometimes pardoned, and that punishment is not the necessary consequence, is to nourish the flattering hope of impunity, and is the cause of their considering every punishment inflicted as an act of injustice and oppression.
Page 97 - The death of a criminal is a terrible but momentary spectacle, and therefore a less efficacious method of deterring others than the continued example of a man deprived of his liberty, condemned, as a beast of burden, to repair, by his labour, the injury he has done to society...
Page 50 - ... nothing; or when all the proofs are dependent upon one, the number of proofs neither increase nor diminish the probability of the fact; for the force of the whole is no greater than the force of that which they depend; and if this fails, they all fall to the ground.
Page 23 - There is nothing more dangerous than the common axiom : The spirit of the laws is to be considered. To adopt it is to give way to the torrent of opinions.