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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Cruelty Consecrated by Nations

Just after During the Enlightenment:

Cesare Beccaria: Essay on Crimes and Punishments, 1819 1767 [Update: Please see comments on date correction]: Cesare Beccaria applied an Enlightenment analysis to crime and punishment, and to the ugliness of the traditional legal and penal system.

...The torture of a criminal during the course of his trial is a cruelty consecrated by custom in most nations. It is used with an intent either to make him confess his crime, or to explain some contradiction into which he had been led during his examination, or discover his accomplices, or for some kind of metaphysical and incomprehensible purgation of infamy, or, finally, in order to discover other crimes of which he is not accused, but of which he may be guilty.

No man can be judged a criminal until he be found guilty; nor can society take from him the public protection until it have been proved that he has violated the conditions on which it was granted. What right, then, but that of power, can authorize the punishment of a citizen so long as there remains any doubt of his guilt? This dilemma is frequent. Either he is guilty, or not guilty. If guilty, he should only suffer the punishment ordained by the laws, and torture becomes useless, as his confession is unnecessary. If he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved....

    Posted by on Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 11:07 PM in Terrorism | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (11)

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