Beccaria was born the eldest son in an aristocratic family. He was an Italian jurist, philosopher and politician best known for his book On Crimes and Punishments. He was born in Milan on March 15th, 1738 and inherited his father’s title when he died. He married Teresa di Blasco against his parent’s wishes. Beccaria later studied jurisprudence, which is the study or philosophy of law, at the University of Pavia. He achieved his degree in law in 1758. He was greatly influenced at the time by the social theories of Jean Jacques Rousseau and he set out to apply them to social and philosophical problems. “Beccaria”)
In 1764, he published the book, Crimes and Punishments that condemned the use of torture, argued for the abolition of capital punishment, and many reforms for the rational and fair administration of law. Beccaria’s ideas about legal and penal reforms influenced many individuals from Europe and in North America that inspired many other significant reforms. Beccaria’s critiques and suggestions for reforms were accepted by many leading North American and European intellectuals and by prominent heads of states. “Cesare Beccaria”) Around the time that Beccaria was writing Crimes and Punishments, the United States was coming together as a nation. The founding fathers were greatly influenced by Beccaria. In the Constitution and Bill of Rights, many of the rights that we, as United States citizens have include: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to public trial, right to be judged by peers, right to dismiss certain jurors, right against cruel and unusual punishments, right to speedy trial, right to examine witnesses, right to bear arms, etc.
Were influenced directly from Beccaria’s writings. Our Constitution was greatly influenced by Beccaria, and many of the rights that he advocated were made part of the foundation of the United States. (“Beccaria, Cesare”) In 1764, the unknown Cesare Beccaria wrote one short book called Crimes and Punishments and the world is still using it to guide criminal justice. The short essay greatly impacted the United States’ Constitution, Bill of Rights and justice system.
Many reforms that Beccaria called for were put into our system, and his influence stretches from arrest, prosecution and punishment. He never wrote anything else or expanded on his thoughts about crime. So many answers will never be answered. Beccaria’s work has become the foundation in which many criminology theories used to build and expand other government’s rules, rights, and laws. (“Cesare, Beccaria”)
Work Cited Page
- “Beccaria” Encyclopedia Americana. 1993 ed. Print.
- “Beccaria, Cesare” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosopy. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug 13. 2012
- “Cesare, Beccaria.” Index. N.p, n.d. Web. Aug 13. 2012