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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 137094 Find in a Library
Title: Toward a More Just Criminal Code in Pre-Revolutionary France: J.-P. Brissot (1754-1793)
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:20  Issue:2  Dated:(1992)  Pages:121- 133
Author(s): L Loft
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 13
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Jacques-Pierre Brissot, a controversial and often ignored journalist and politician of the French Revolution, began his career as a serious publicist by concentrating on criminal code reform. Among his early efforts is a lengthy pamphlet investigating the problem of the innocent falsely accused, "Le Sange Innocent Venge ou Discours sur les reparations dues aux accuses innocens" (1781), awarded a prize by the Academy of Chalons-sur-Marne.
Abstract: The Criminal Ordinance of 1670, still in effect at that time, was the object of Brissot's attack. Although a number of scholars of the Ancien Regime have indicated that the police force of the period was totally inadequate and that a severe penal code may have been one of the only ways to deter crime, these were not Brissot's main concern. He, like his mentors, the "philosophes," and particularly Voltaire, chose legal institutions as an indication and illustration of problems and abuses in the existing system. Brissot's insight, however, was his perception of harsh and unnecessarily cruel punishments as a threat to the life and liberty of the individual. His concern was the damage done by legal proceedings to the individual rather than swift retribution for the damage done by the individual to society. He contended that reforms were needed to create a criminal justice system more responsive to individual rights. This article examines Brissot's pamphlet and demonstrates that he should be granted a prominent place among the advocates of reform. 19 notes and 59 references (Author abstract)
Main Term(s): Foreign criminal justice systems; History of criminal justice
Index Term(s): Criminal justice system reform; France
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