The Death Penalty and Criticisms of Beccarias On Crimes and Punishments

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The Death Penalty and Criticisms of Beccarias On Crimes and Punishments


The purpose of this paper is to discuss Beccaria's On Crimes and Punishments,

with emphasis on Beccaria's views on the death penalty and the many criticisms

that surrounds his work. Beccaria had extreme views against the death penalty,

but he contradicted his views several times. This led to the criticism of his work

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

who said the Beccaria did not write On Crimes and Punishment, this along with

other criticisms will be address below.

The Death Penalty and Criticisms of Beccaria's Work

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Beccaria learned well. He read, observed, and made notes on small scraps of paper. These notes, Harry Elmer Barnes has observed, were destined to "assure to its author immortality and would work a revolution in the moral world" upon their publication in July 1764 under the title Dei delitti e delle pene (On Crimes and Punishment). Beccaria presented a coherent, comprehensive designs for an enlightened criminal justice system that was serve the people rather than the monarchy. (p. 62-63) After On Crimes and Punishment was published Beccaria was considered the founder of Classical school of Criminology.

The Death penalty The death penalty also known as capital punishment is being put to death for committing a crime. Beccaria (1764/1963) views the death penalty as a " . . . useless prodigality of torments, which has never made man better . . . ." The purpose of punishment is to deter crime, but when that punishment exceeds what is necessary to deter crime it becomes unjust, according to Beccaria. What can justify the execution of one of societies citizens? How can we determine if the punishment of the crime should be death? Are there any crime that are justified by the killing of a human being? These are some questions that Beccaria (1764/1963) answers:
There are only two possible motives for believing that the death of a citizen is

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