In 1764, Cesare Beccaria, a 26-year-old Italian, penned . The treatise argued that state-sanctioned executions and torture violate natural law. As we near the 250th anniversary of its publication, author John D. Bessler provides a comprehensive review of the abolition movement, from before Beccaria's time to the present. Bessler reviews Beccaria's influence on Enlightenment thinkers and more importantly, on America's Founding Fathers. The Article also provides an extensive review of Eighth Amendment jurisprudence and then contrasts it with the trend in International Law towards the abolition of the death penalty. It then discusses the current state of the death penalty in light of the Supreme Court's most recent decision in and concludes that there is every reason to believe that America's death penalty may finally be in its death throes.
John D. Bessler,
Revisiting Beccaria's Vision: The Enlightenment, America's Death Penalty, and the Abolition Movement,
Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol'y.