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The Baron and the Marquis

The Baron and the Marquis book jacket View Table of Contents and Introductory Material

The Baron and the Marquis

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

by John D. Bessler

Forthcoming January 2019 $65.00 540 pp paper

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

The Baron and the Marquis explores the history of the maxim that articulates what is now known as the parsimony principle. That maxim shaped the American and French Revolutions, and it set the dividing line between tyranny and liberty. 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, arguing that unnecessary punishments are “excessive” and “cruel and unusual.” 

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