Of the Intent of Punishments.
From the foregoing considerations it is evident that the
intent of punishments is not to torment a sensible being, nor to undo a crime
already committed. Is it possible that torments and useless cruelty, the
instrument of furious fanaticism or the impotency of tyrants, can be authorised
by a political body, which, so far from being influenced by passion, should be
the cool moderator of the passions of individuals? Can the groans of a tortured
wretch recall the time past, or reverse the crime he has committed?
The end of punishment, therefore, is no other than to
prevent the criminal from doing further injury to society, and to prevent
others from committing the like offence. Such punishments, therefore, and such
a mode of inflicting them, ought to be chosen, as will make the strongest and
most lasting impressions on the minds of others, with the least torment to the
body of the criminal.
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