That a punishment may produce the effect required, it is sufficient that the evil it occasions should exceed the good expected from the crime, including in the calculation the certainty of the punishment, and the privation of the expected advantage.
All severity beyond this is superfluous, and therefore tyrannical.
The first systematic study of the principles of crime and punishment. Originally published anonymously in 1764, this is a reprint of the fourth edition, which contains an additional text attributed to Voltaire.
It had a profound influence on the development of criminal law in Europe and the United States, especially among the founding fathers.
Erom Cesare Beccaria, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, E. Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.
Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use.It is used with an intent either to make him confess his crime, or to explain some contradiction into which he had been led during his examination, or discover his accomplices, or for some kind of metaphysical and incomprehensible purgation of infamy, or, finally, in order to discover other crimes of which he is not accused, but of which he may be guilty.No man can be judged a criminal until he be found guilty; nor can society take from him the public protection until it have been proved that he has violated the conditions on which it was granted. If guilty, he should only suffer the punishment ordained by the laws, and torture becomés useless, as his confession is unnecessary.As a young man, he fell in with brothers Pietro and Alessandro Verri and their “academy of fists,” The Verri brothers supplied the assignment and the insider knowledge of the criminal justice system of the day, and at the behest of this group, Becarria completed his famous essay On Crimes and Punishments in 1764.In the time of its writing, Beccaria’s propositions that onerous punishments like torture and execution were unnecessarily cruel, disproportionate, and unlikely to serve as effective deterrents were novel.Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.Cesare Beccaria (1738 – 1794) was perhaps an unlikely figure to trigger a veritable revolution in criminology.What right, then, but that of power, can authorise the punishment of a citizen so long as there remains any doubt of his guilt? If he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved Crimes are more effectually prevented by the certainty than the severity of punishment.In proportion as punishments become more cruel, the minds of men, as a fluid rises to the same height with that which surrounds it, grow hardened and insensible; and the force of the passions still continuingg in the space of an hundred years the wheel terrifies no more than formerly the prison.(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997 The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of Fordham University, New York.The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.