1 CAP - The Baron and the Marquis: Liberty, Tyranny, and the Enlightenment Maxim That Can Remake American Criminal Justice (9781531013059). Authors: John D. Bessler. Carolina Academic Press

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The Baron and the Marquis


The Baron and the Marquis book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material
ISBN978-1-5310-1305-9
e-ISBN978-1-5310-1306-6

The Baron and the Marquis

Liberty, Tyranny, and the Enlightenment Maxim That Can Remake American Criminal Justice

by John D. Bessler

2019 $65.00 540 pp paper

Tags: Death Penalty/Capital Punishment, History, Legal History, Legal Philosophy/Philosophy and Law

Available on Kindle  Available on Kindle

Available on Redshelf  Available on Redshelf

Available on LexisNexis Store Ebook available on LexisNexis Store


The Baron and the Marquis explores the history of the maxim that articulates what is now known as the parsimony principle. That maxim: any punishment that goes beyond necessity is “tyrannical.” First articulated by Baron de Montesquieu and later publicized by the Italian criminal-law theorist, the Marquis Beccaria, that maxim shaped the American and French Revolutions and set the dividing line between tyranny and liberty. Thomas Jefferson believed only absolute necessity justified punishment, and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) similarly allowed only “strictly and obviously necessary” punishments. In The Baron and the Marquis, award-winning author John Bessler shows the maxim’s modern-day implications for capital punishment, prolonged solitary confinement, and mass incarceration. The book argues that unnecessary punishments violate the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment as “excessive” and “cruel and unusual.”

“An extraordinary work of seminal scholarship, "The Baron and the Marquis" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "The Baron and the Marquis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $52.00).” — Midwest Book Review



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