Are Beccarias ideas primarily about crime or about punishment Does his theory of punishment drive his theory of crime

Beccarias major emphasis appears to address issues of punishment rather than the crime itself. His reference to crime serves to explain the reason why people commit deviant acts in contravention of the social contract. Thus, his theory of punishment drives his theory of crime.

Beccaria admits that crime emanates from self gratification and that the imposing power of the state to punish the individual is the only restraint that prevents a breakdown of law and order. He took issue with the randomness of punishment and claimed that uncertainty about prescribed sentencing fueled criminal behavior.

His proposed changes addressed the inefficiencies of the system in meting out justice with most of his ideas revolving around the universal human rights. He posited that the administration of justice should be swift and fair. To improve on the system, he suggested trial by jury and standard sentences for particular crimes. He argued that punishments for crimes must not exceed the anticipated pleasure by a large degree to ensure fairness and compliance.

In conclusion, Beccarias treatise has influenced modern criminal justice systems and led to major reforms in penal systems worldwide. Without his contribution, criminal justice systems would operate with impunity.


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