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Maddi McLean

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My Italian heritage has always been a great source of pride for my entire family. During my freshman year of high school, my family traveled across Italy learning the history behind some of the world’s most famous sites. This trip allowed me to connect with my Italian roots by creating memories that will last forever. While we were in Milan, I learned of a local hero named, Cesare Marquis of Beccaria, who is remembered, as the “Father of Justice”. Beccaria was a world-renowned philosopher, known for his diligent work in the field of criminology. As I learned more about Beccaria’s impact on the modern criminal justice systems in most democratic countries, it inspired me to continue my education and work towards a career in law.

When I returned home from our Italian vacation, I read Beccaria’s most famous piece of writing, On Crimes and Punishment written in 1764. I was in awe of his powerful claims and insights about designing a just legal system. Throughout his studies he came to believe that each crime was worthy of punishment and it was in fact necessary to create a peaceful society. Beccaria had no background in education on the subjects he was studying, but nevertheless he triumphed and became famous for his innovative policies. Although he was in favor of convicted criminals receiving punishments proportionate to their actions, he was strongly against the use of violence. Beccaria tried to eliminate the use of torture and infliction of pain in all of his cases. He gathered evidence in order to support his strong beliefs against the death penalty and why the use of violence as punishment was illogical. He believed if the legal system imposed consequences for crimes then people would shy away from committing illegal deeds.

After learning about all of Beccaria’s contributions to America’s modern criminal justice system, I was inspired to pursue my passion for the law. During the summer before my senior year, due to my intrigue with his work within the Classical School of criminology I was inspired to pursue an internship with the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. This internship exposed me to elements of the legal system that I had only read about in Beccaria’s essay. Following my internship with Congressman Cummings, I began a clerkship with Keyes Law Firm. This firm represents individuals injured by environmental toxins, in Baltimore City.

My introduction to several aspects of the legal system at a young age and interest in Beccaria’s extraordinary work has expanded my interests motivating me to achieve my dreams in the future. I continue to reference Beccaria’s writings for additional clarity of social justice policies for cases that I read. After graduating from the University of South Carolina, I hope to attend law school in order to one day become a legal defense attorney. Cesare Beccaria’s dedication to justice and determination to create a fair legal system has motivated me to help as many people as I can along the way.