Who is Cesare Beccaria Bonesana?June 25, 2021
Cesare BeccariaCesare Beccaria Bonesana (March 15, 1738, Milan – November 28, 1794, Florence) was an Italian lawyer, philosopher, economist and man of letters, one of the important names of the Age of Enlightenment. With his book “On Crimes and Punishments” (Dei delitti e delle pene), he established the current contemporary criminal law and justified his opposition to the death penalty in the same work as one of the first advocates.
After eight years of religious education between 1747-1755, he completed his doctorate in law at the age of 20. Beccaria mainly dealt with Legal issues.
Since 1770, he became a senior official in the Austrian-dominated Milan Administration and continued this duty until his death. The abolition of torture in France inspired judicial reform in Sweden and influenced Thomas Jefferson with his work published in the USA.
About Crimes and Punishments
He wrote his book On Crimes and Punishments in 26 months with great care. In this work, he tried to explain that execution and torture could not be seen as punishment and that it would be barbaric. With this work, he brought many principles to the law. Some of these, “Nullum crimen nulla poena sine lege” (there is no crime or punishment without law), thus incorporated the principle of legitimacy into law. Also another example: “The law should only impose penalties that are clearly and necessarily necessary, and a person can only be punished in accordance with a law that was passed and proclaimed before the crime was committed and duly implemented.” which is included in the 8th article of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.
His work was translated into French in 1765, German in 1766, English in 1767, Swedish in 1770, Polca in 1772, and Spanish in 1774. Many intellectuals such as Voltaire and Diderot discuss this work. With this work, he has made the death penalty debated for 200 years. He showed that the execution was both unusable and unnecessary and defined it as “public murder”.
His legal principles and his work “On Crimes and Punishments” are still inevitably cited as references in the criminal law departments of universities today. Who is Bonesana?