Reviewing Punishment And Creating Better Societys Criminology Essay

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Cesare Beccaria's aim for punishment is to create a better society and not to trigger revenge between the prisoner and society. His viewpoints on aspects of the punishing of crimes are "revolutionary and thoughtful" in context of the time period in which the author wrote them. Beccaria argued that "there must be proportion between crimes and punishments." Punishment should be based on the act, and not on who done the crime. Therefore, punishment should be equal for everyone. All people should be treated equally and punishment should be based on the pleasure/pain principle and should be prompt and effective. "punishment of a noble should in no way differ from that of the lowest member of society" (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 21 Of the Punishment of the Nobles). (Retrieved December 10, 2010, from

The drafting of the criminal laws goes hand in hand with a rational form of punishment. Beccaria was against cruel and arbitrary punishments, but the government had the right and duty to punish those individuals that threatened the society. He stated, "for a punishment to attain its end, the evil which it inflicts has only to exceed the advantage derivable from the crime" it is not justifiable to go over than what was necessary for the security of the society.

To determine what amount of punishment is necessary of safety and what is excessive, the legislators the "dispassionate student of human nature" must define the punishments for each crime. Since members of society possess freewill, they will commit acts if the pleasure of the act is more than the harshness of the punishment. To stop individuals from committing deviant acts, Beccaria suggested that punishments should be just over the amount of pleasure the individuals receive from the deviant acts. Any punishment that "grossly" or even slightly goes over the amount necessary to stop individuals from committing prohibited acts would be considered "unjust". The effectiveness of criminal justice depends on the certainty of punishment rather than on its severity. Penalties should be scaled to the importance of the offense. If an individual is found guilty of committing a crime, effective punishments must be certain and prompt to be effective in stopping further crimes "the more promptly and the more closely punishment follow upon the commission of a crime, the more just and useful will it be". Beccaria stated that, "the certainty of a punishment, even if it be moderate, will always make a stronger impression". The harsher the crime, the harsher the punishment. Crimes against persons should be corporal and crimes of theft should be fines. (Retrieved December 10, 2010, from

Beccaria believed in a system where the body of the accused should be as harmed as little as possible, but still the criminal should be punished in an effective enough way as to instil fear from those who realize how much they have to lose by taking part in such illegal practices.

Furthermore, The Eighth American Amendment guarantees "that no cruel and unusual punishments will be inflicted upon the citizens," in relation to Beccaria's idea that "excessively severe punishments would also be contrary to justice and to the nature of social contract itself". Punishments are to be created in direct proportion to the actions committed by the criminal, "one may discern a scale of misdeeds wherein the highest degree consists of acts that are directly destructive of society and the lowest of the least possible injustice against one of its individual members" "Everything that does not fit within this structure is not to be considered a punishable offense". In order to punish the criminal, Beccaria insisted that punishment should "inflict the least torment on the body of the criminal". (Adam McKinney University of Phoenix ADJ/310 - Criminology Jeffery Snider September 17, 2006).

Beccaria continues to argue that he wanted to spare "collaborators" from prosecution. He claimed that accomplices should be given a lesser punishment minor crime should have mild punishments and major crimes require more hostile punishment. The theory of retributive justice goes hand in hand with the theory of rational choice. Beccaria focused on the deterrence and the use of incarceration as a deterrent to crime. "A criminal will get his "just desserts" simply means that if an individual commits a deviant act then that individual deserves to be punished for that crime." (Adam McKinney University of Phoenix ADJ/310 - Criminology Jeffery Snider September 17, 2006).

Beccaria discussed that punishment is justified only to defend the social contract and to ensure that everyone will be inclined to follow it. Beccaria also argued that the method of punishment selected should be that which serves the greatest public good. (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 01 Of the Origin of Punishment) "to counterbalance the effects of the passions". Beccaria argued that there is no justification for severe punishments. As time passes, people will naturally grow used to the increases in severity of punishment and thus the initial increase in severity of punishment will lose its effect. (Encyclopaedia of Crime and Punishment, David Levinson)

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 2 Of the right to punish) Beccaria discussed that punishments should be given directly proportional to the offense made. The punishments given should be controlled by the government as its aim is to protect "the necessity of defending the public liberty". As a result, punishments which are far more aggressive than the offense done is considered "tyrannical", "unjust" and "abusive" and not justified. Punishments are a form of "justice" to keep a society possible and united. Cautiousness must prevail when justice comes into play as to how order a punishment. Beccaria argued that laws are necessary to keep the "interest of individuals united" The criminal justice system's role is to decide the penalties. Crime should be clearly defined by law on paper and judges should not interpret the law, but only impose punishment only in accordance with the law which must be swift and severe". Certainty of punishment will give the government control over the peoples" (Retrieved December 10, 2010 from

Moreover, for the system to work, punishments should be determined by law. Although, punishments must only be directly proportional to the offense, they also must influence the citizen not to commit a crime. If such does not work, the concept of crime prevention would be useless as this will make the citizen a calculator of crime and not a law abiding citizen since he will calculate the inconveniences versus the conveniences of crime. If the balance topples towards the conveniences, the citizen will commit a crime. (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 3 Consequences of the foregoing Principle)

Beccaria further discusses that punishment given should be is given according to the degree of the crime. No punishment should be the same for two offences. Different crimes should have different punishments.

(Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 6 Of the Proportion between Crimes and Punishment)

Beccaria emphasised that the "legislative" is there to deter and come up with punishments according to the crime committed. The legislative must not put harsh consequences as these consequences "induce" citizens to commit crime and destroy "public" safety. The most major crime which inflicts the most damage is crime against society whilst the most minor crime is "injustice done to a private member of society". In conjunction to this, a list of all other crimes should be listed between these two extremes according to "a corresponding scale of punishments" this should ensure "a common measure of the degree of liberty and slavery; humanity and cruelty of different nations". Any other crime which is not listed is not considered a crime and therefore cannot be punished by law. This determines the "vice" and "virtue" of a society. Therefore, punishments should be given according to a particular behaviour of society since a different society has a different behaviour and therefore, what is considered good behaviour in a society is different from another.

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 7 Of estimating the Degree of Crimes) Beccaria stressed that punishments should be given according to the degree of "injury "inflicted to society and "according to the intention of the person by whom it is committed". The penal law should also take into consideration the psychological circumstances and aspects of the offender since every person are different from each other. Since crime is different according to "the malignity of the heart", these crimes are triggered by passions, interests, mind, heart and the justice system should give a different penalties. "crimes are only to be measured by the injury done to society" "The more serious the crime, the longer the sentence .

Furthermore, Beccaria in (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 8 Of the Division of Crimes) described that the highest offense to society are those "crimes of ceze-majesty" which are high treason, tyranny, ignorance and breach of personal security. "Assassination" is highest in nature. In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 09 Of Honour) Beccaria argued that "morality contradicts law" however law should not take into consideration morality because the sentence would be biased. In (Of Crimes and Punishments, which disturb the Chapter 11 Of crimes which disturb public tranquillity) "Another class of crimes is that which disturbs the public tranquillity" accompanied by "tumults, riots Illumination, guards-prevention". Furthermore, crime vs. the public peace should be punished according to the level of disorder. In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 12 Of the Intent of Punishments) Beccaria stated that to "prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society" and "to prevent others from committing the like offence" the punishment given should "effect impressions and minds of others" together with the least physical pain. This goes hand in hand with (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 19 Of the Advantage of immediate Punishment) where Beccaria justified the advantage of immediate punishment as "just and useful". It is described as "just" because it decreases the uncertainty of weather the accuses is punished or not since this "torments" "the privation of liberty". Also, imprisonment before accusation must be short as possible " The degree of the punishment, and the consequences of a crime, ought to be so contrived, as to have the greatest possible effect on others, with the least possible pain to the delinquent" Who does not hold this principle is "unlawful to society".

More lasting will be the association of crime and punishment when the punishment is immediate. The advantage of crime should be curbed by the immediate punishment. If the punishment is not immediate, the accused considers it as a fight as weather the accused would have the same degree of punishment as described by the law. Link of time and punishment is strengthened by making the punishment "as analogous as possible". The delinquent must see the punishment instead of seeing the advantages of committing a particular crime. Public punishment of small crimes is more effective since a huge punishment on a small crime, the offender will consider it improbable and would eventually get away with it with a less punishment. If the punishment si smaller, this will instigate a great impression and thus given immediately and therefore other people will think that if they do this crime they would surely be immediately punished. "An immediate punishment is more useful; because the smaller the interval of time between the punishment and the crime, the stronger and more lasting will be the association of the two ideas of Crime and Punishment" (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 19 Of the Advantage of immediate Punishment) If fast action is applied to give punishment , anxiety of the accused would diminish.

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 22 Of Robbery) Beccaria discussed that punishment on robbery should be "pecuniary". Robbery with violence endangers life "corporal punishment should be added to slavery". Profits from crime should be forfeited "He who endeavours to enrich himself with the property of others, should be deprived of part of his own" Furthermore, in (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 23 Of Infamy considered as a Punishment) Beccaria argued that infamy effects the confidence and social relationships of a person. "Those injuries, which affect the honour … should be punished" In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 24 Of Idleness). Beccaria explained that "…politically idle, who neither contribute to the good of society by their labor, nor their riches …accumulate, but never spend" should be punished according to what the law says "the laws … should determine, what species of idleness deserves punishment" since politically idle persons never contribute but always gains

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 32 of suicide - "laws obeyed through fear of punishment" but death destroys all sensibility "cannot be punished" . only punished by intentions. "Suicide is a crime which seems not to admit of punishment …it cannot be inflicted but on the innocent, or upon … dead body"

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 33 Of Smuggling) Beccaria argued that smuggling is an offence against the sovereign and the nation. If punishments of two different crimes are the same, it destroys the idea of punishment. "risqué only in proportion to the advantage expected"

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 34 Of bankrupts) Beccaria stated that "It is … necessary to distinguish between the fraudulent and the honest bankrupt". Fraudulent are given same punishment as who falsifies money. Honest bankrupt is deprived of his liberty and cannot leave the country. He should rehabilitate since he is honest. All punishments should be fixed by law "to cruel laws"

In (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 35 Of sanctuaries) punishments should be given "no other than that where the crime was committed". Every criminal must be sentenced where the crime was committed.

(Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 36 Rewards for apprehending or killing Criminals)

If the government gives rewards for apprehending or killing criminals this shows "strongest proof of the weakness of the government". This goes against the ideas of virtue and morality. Intentions are never punished. Attempt at a crime is less punished if caught. According to Beccaria accomplices are given a lesser punishment than "the perpetrator". Punishment should be equal when "the principal receives a reward from the accomplices"

In some tribunals a pardon is offered to an accomplice in a great crime, if he discovers his associates. The accomplice, however, should be pardoned, on condition of transportation. Therefore, the accomplice prevents crime from happening and this creates distrust among "villains". Sometimes, authorities often do not keep their promise of pardon and therefore accomplices do not work with the police. (Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 37 attempts, accomplices and pardons). In the contrary to Beccaria, accomplices in Malta are punished same as who committed the crime.

The situation in Malta is different from Beccaria's environment as Malta has a set of riles in which laws are based. For example, Judges can be dismissed if they show bad conduct and "be incompetent" "lawful impediment ". Beccaria discusses the exile of non-citizens who commit a crime while in Malta extradition of non-Maltese offenders occurs.

Like Beccaria's proposal, the criminal action is essentially a public action and is vested in the State and is prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Malta, "(a) against any person who commits an offence in Malta, or on the sea in any place within the territorial" (Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

Punishments in Malta are given as follows: "(a) imprisonment; (b) solitary confinement; (c) interdiction; (d) fine (multa). (2) The duration of the punishment of imprisonment is established by law in each particular case. person guilty of more than one crime liable to temporary punishments restrictive of personal liberty, shall be sentenced to the punishment for the graver crime with an increase varying from one-third to one half of the aggregate duration of the other punishments, provided the period to be awarded shall not exceed thirty-five years." Moreover, "26.Any sentence … established by law shall always be deemed to have been awarded without prejudice to the right of civil action"

The Maltese criminal justice system works on Beccaria's aim. "Every person is exempt from criminal responsibility if at the time of the act or omission complained of, such person - (a) was in a state of insanity; or (b) was constrained thereto by an external force which he could not resist.

132. Any juror, witness or referee who, with the object of not affording assistance to the competent authority lawfully requiring such assistance, or of explaining his non-appearance before such authority, alleges an excuse which is shown to be false, shall, in addition to the punishment established for his non-appearance, be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term from one to three months

A crime against humanity (CRIMINAL CODE [CAP. 9. 35]) (a) murder; (b) extermination; (c) enslavement; (d) deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physic liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) torture; (g) rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; 54A;) other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury ,to body or to mental or physical health

OF FORGERY OF PAPERS, STAMPS AND SEALS Forgery of Government debentures. Amended by: XII. 1913.4; XLIX. 1981.4. 166. (1) imprisonment for a term from three to five years, with or without solitary confinement. (2) The same punishment shall apply where the forgery consists in opening a credit relative to such loan in the books of the Government Treasury. (Retrieved December 1, 2010, from Money laundering is judged under the criminal codes Cap. 373.

Title VIII OF CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON OF WILFUL HOMICIDE 211. (1) Whosoever shall be guilty of wilful homicide shall be punished with imprisonment for life OF WILFUL OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON Bodily harm. Amended by: XI. 1900.32. 214. Whosoever, without intent to kill or to put the life of any person in manifest jeopardy, shall cause harm to the body or health of another person, or shall cause to such other person a mental derangement, shall be guilty of bodily harm (Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

In Malta, clemency is exercised, pardons and amnesties are given Also, in Malta, the victim's views are considered by the judge. On the other hand, during Beccaria's time the victims may forgive, but still judged by the law. In Malta, Judges may ask for pre-sentencing reports from probation officers and can be forgiven. In Malta, profit from crime is to be refunded. Same as Beccaria, the Maltese Criminal Code (Sec. 252, s.s.1) states that the offender may be imprisoned for not more than 3 months or charged a fine. Also, those going against the honour are punished according to the Maltese Criminal Code (Sec. 252, s.s.1) "Offender may be imprisoned for not more than 3 months or charged a fine". Beccaria also claims that individuals found guilty of simple theft should be either fined or should provide community service. In Malta, this is defined under (sec 285/288). If applied, the prison sentence is not more than 6 months. 261. The crime of theft may be aggravated - (a) by "violence"; (b) by "means"; (c) by "amount"; (d) by "person"; (e) by "place"; (f) by "time"; (g) by "the nature of the thing stolen". Sub-title III (Retrieved December 1, 2010, from

Regarding suicide

The Maltese Criminal Code punishes those who help others commit suicide "213. Whosoever shall prevail on any person to commit suicide or shall give him any assistance, shall, if the suicide takes place, be liable, on conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve years. Inciting or helping others to commit suicide. Added by: XI.1900.31. Amended by: XLIX.1981..". Also, intention of suicide is also punished as " " death destroys sensibility" (Retrieved November 22, 2010, from