The classical school of criminology grew out of the philosophy of the Enlightenment. The central tenet of classicism was that the rights of man had to be protected against the corruption and excesses of existing institutions; and these vagaries were nowhere more evident than in the legal systems of eighteenth-century Europe. Punishment was arbitrary and barbarous, ‘due processes’ of law being absent or ignored and crime itself being ill-defined and extensive. It was in this context that the Italian Cesare Beccaria first formulated the principles of classical criminology, basing them firmly on the social contract theories of Hobbes,1 Montesquieu and Rousseau.