The punishment of death, when applied to the punishment of offences in opposition to public opinion, far from preventing offenses, tends to increase them by the hope of impunity. This proposition may appear paradoxical; but the paradox vanishes when we consider the different effects produced by the unpopularity of the punishment of death. In the first place it relaxes prosecution in criminal matters, and in the next place foments three vicious principles. 1. It makes perjury appear meritorious, by founding it on humanity; 2. it produces contempt for the laws, by rendering it notorious that they are not executed; 3. it renders convictions arbitrary and pardons necessary.
The relaxation of criminal procedure results from a series of transgressions on the part of the different public functionaries, whose concurrence is necessary to the execution of the laws: each one alters the part allotted to him, that he may weaken or break the legal chain by which he is bound, and substitute his own will for that of the legislator; but all these causes of uncertainty in criminal procedure are so many encouragements to malefactors.