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Beccaria









Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) was an humanitarianism of the Enlightenment who denounced torture used by the criminal justice system in Europe. He was the eldest son born to an aristocratic family in Milan Italy and received a Jesuit education. In his twenties, he became friends with two brothers named Pietro and Alessandro Verri. Together with them, they formed a society called the "Academy of Fist". This organization was aimed against the ways of the criminal justice system, economic disorder, bureaucratic petty tyranny, and religious narrow-mindedness. Becarria’s initially anonymous and famous publication "On Crimes and Punishment", was written in 1764 with the help of "The Academy of Fist". Afterwards, Beccaria went to work for the Austrian government and subsequently died in 1794. so while Beccaria only wrote on notable essay, the impact of his essay can be seen in many other important historical documents such as the Constitution (The Bill of Rights) and in the American criminal justice system. He is now remembered as the father of classical criminal theory and a literary champion for the cause of humanity.


"On Crimes and Punishment"
In his essay, Beccaria condemned torture, which was a commonly used method in European countries to extract confessions from held suspects. In it, he explains that torture is a mean that will get the judicial system nowhere. He argues that torture in the system is used to force the truth out of suspects who are not yet sentenced or condemned and therefore, a judge has no right to impose torture methods onto the individual because he is not yet guilty. In the case that the suspect is in fact guilty, the system needs not the confession of a criminal who they already know to be guilty. In the case that the suspect is innocent, he will still give into the horrendous and excruciating torture and say something that is not true in order to get away from the pain of the torture. On the other hand, is a true criminal is able to endure enough pain as to not confess, he may very well get away with his crime. This was Beccaria’s logic towards his disapproval of torture.