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Against the Death PenaltyWritings from the First Abolitionists-Giuseppe Pelli and Cesare Beccaria$
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Giuseppe Pelli

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209883

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209883.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 26 May 2022



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Against the Death Penalty

Giuseppe Pelli

Princeton University Press

This chapter presents select excerpts from Cesare Beccaria Bonesana's On Crimes and Punishments. It examines whether the death penalty really is useful and just in a government that is well administered. The chapter argues that the death penalty is for most people a spectacle, and for some an object of compassion blended with disdain. These are the two sentiments that take hold of the minds of spectators, rather than the salutary terror that the law claims to inspire. The chapter then takes a look at Beccaria, Gallarati Scotti and Risi's opinion Against the Death Penalty. It discusses the drafting of the new penal code — The Criminal Law Committee. Ultimately, it infers that the death penalty is inappropriate because it is irreversible; we bear in mind the inevitable imperfection of human judgements. Even if the death were a just penalty, even if it were the most efficacious of all punishments, in order for it to be justly applied to a particular criminal, it would be necessary that he be proven to be guilty in such a way that the possibility of the contrary is excluded.

Keywords:   Cesare Beccaria Bonesana, On Crimes and Punishments, death penalty, Gallarati Scotti, Against the Death Penalty, Criminal Law Committee, penalty, penal code

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