Cesare Beccaria Essay

Submitted By Christina-Suttles
Words: 789
Pages: 4


Cesare Beccaria Composition ENC 1101

Running Head: Becarria 2

Could you imagine committing a crime, or maybe even being wrongly accused of committing a crime, and Judges or Magistrates punishing you however they see fit that day? This is exactly what happened in Europe in the eighteenth century, until a man named Cesare Becarria sent his thoughts out for all the people to read. Cesare was just an ordinary man who could not even stay focused on one subject to study, and later ended his studies with law. Cesare made a lasting impact on the Justice System by writing a famous essay on penal reform, making a devastating attack on the prevailing systems, and stated his idea on how the system should work. Cesare changed the way people saw crime and punishment. Cesare attended the University of Pavia where he studied law. He met two men there by the names of Pietro and Alassandro Verria, who later became partners with him in a study group. After graduating in 1758, Pietro and Alassandro convinced Cesare to write his essay on penal reform. Writing began in March of 1763 and was finished by January of 1764. Becarria was a mere 26 years old when he was finished his essay. This essay became famous, and some of the basic guidelines are still used today. Famous people, like Thomas Jefferson, was so inspired by Cesare’s work that he was known to quote him on several occasions. The essay was a devastating attack on the prevailing systems for the administration of criminal justice. It was going against almost everything they did. In order to fully understand what is so magnificent about this essay, you would have to know how criminal law was in the eighteenth century. It was repressive, uncertain, and barbaric. The agents of the criminal law, prosecutors and judges were all aloud to punish however they saw fit when dealing with
Running Head: Beccaria 3

someone who had been accused of committing some form of crime. Europe vested in the public officials the power to deprive people of their freedom, property, and their life. Torture, ingenious and horrible best describes those employed to get confessions from the offenders. Judges were a loud to exercise unlimited discretion when punishing those who were accused of committing crimes, and punishment gave to more unfortunate individuals was extremely sever. Cesare went against all of this behavior, and he let it be known in his essay for people to see. In his essay, Cesare warns that every punishment which is not founded upon absolute necessity is tyrannical. He declares that punishment for crime is established only by law, and the power to enact penal laws can only be vested in the “Legislature” who represents all members of a society. He said that since judges and magistrates are not legislatures they have no right or authority to interrupt penal laws. He declares that laws, penal or otherwise, must be written in a language that all the people can understand. It was stated that “punishment is not to torture offenders or to undo a crime already committed, but to prevent others from committing crimes”. He also says that