Crime And Punishment Essay
In every human society, there is an effort continually tending to confer on one part the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery.
The intent of good laws is to oppose this effort, and to diffuse their influence universally, and equally.
If an equal punishment be ordained for two crimes that injure society in different degrees, there is nothing to deter men from committing the greater, as often as it is attended with greater advantage. Is it possible that torments and useless cruelty, the instrument of furious fanaticism, or the impotency of tyrants, can be authorised by a political bldy?
Which, so far from being influences by passion, should be the cool moderator of the passions of individuals.
The legislator acts, in this case, like a skilful architect, who endeavors to counteract the force of gravity, by combining the circumstances which may contribute to the strength of his edifice. Even amongst the motives which incite men to acts of religion, the invisible legislator has ordained rewards and punishments.
Every act of authority of one man over another, for which there is not an absolute necessity, is tyrannical. Observe, that by justice I understand nothing more, than that bond, which is necessary to keep the interest of individuals united; without which, men would return to their original state of barbarity. Therefore, the means made use of by the legislature to prevent crimes, should be more powerful, in proportion as they are destructive of the public safety and happiness, and as the inducements to commit them are stronger.
In political arithmetic, it is necessary to substitute a calculation of probabilities, to mathematical exactness.
That force, which continually impels us to our own private interest, like gravity, acts incessantly, unless it meets with an obstacle to oppose it.
Weary of living in a continual state of war, and of enjoying a liberty which became of little value, from the uncertainty of its duration, they sacrificed one part of it, to enjoy the rest in peace and security.
The sum of all these portions of the liberty of each individual constituted the sovereignty of a nation; and was deposited in the hands of the sovereign, as the lawful administrator.