Cessare Beccaria's Effect on Today's Justice System

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Cesare Beccaria’s effect on today’s justice system

Cesare Beccaria was an extremely opinionated man, yet extremely enlightened, especially for his time. This was evident in his most famous, and most influential, written work, “On Crimes and Punishments.” He believed that the criminal justice system during his era was barbaric and irrational, mainly due to the fact that the ideas were based solely on those of the monarch. Beccaria, instead, declared that the laws should be created through a representative of the common people, much like today’s government. Being the civil man he was, his thoughts on punishment were also quite different from the punishment utilized in his society. During this time, punishments were all equally brutal, no matter how minor or major the crime may have been. His opinions on this matter were monumental for his era. His belief was that the severity of each punishment should be based on the severity of the crime, clearly stated on page forty-three of his book with the line "for a punishment to attain its end, the evil which it inflicts has only to exceed the advantage derivable from the crime; in this excess of evil one should include the certainty of punishment and the loss of the good which the crime might have produced. All beyond this is superfluous and for that reason tyrannical." He also expressed the concept that laws should be exceedingly clear and easily comprehensible to all citizens. If laws were made explicit to the public, he believed, crime levels would decrease drastically. Another point Beccaria continually brought up was the idea of a suspect being “innocent until proven guilty,” which is used in every modern day trial under our justice system. His policies about his utopian justice system also included his belief that each criminal should be able to make a closing remark at the end of a trial, even though punishment would be inevitable, and that each suspect of a crime must be kept in prison before trial to ensure...
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