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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 210221 
Title: Supermax Meets Death Row: Legal Struggles Around the New Punitiveness in the U.S. (From New Punitiveness: Trends, Theories, Perspectives, P 66-84, 2005, John Pratt, David Brown, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-210217)
Author(s): Mona Lynch
Date Published: 2005
Page Count: 19
Sponsoring Agency: Willan Publishing
Portland, OR 97213-3644
Sale Source: Willan Publishing
c/o ISBS, 5804 N.E. Hassalo Street
Portland, OR 97213-3644
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Through the examination of two recent circuit court of appeals cases, this paper examines the contemporary meaning of punishment and penal subjectivity as reflected in the practice of Supermax facilities for death row inmates and the interpretation of its potential harm by the judiciary.
Abstract: One of the features of the contemporary era of capital punishment in the United States is that those who receive death sentences reside on death row for significantly longer periods of time, and are spending these longer periods in Supermax units. In two recent cases (Comer v. Steward, 2000 and Miller v. Stewart, 2000), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals raised the question about whether the conditions of confinement in Arizona’s supermaximum security housing unit for those awaiting death may be so oppressive that they were in essence compelling some inmates to volunteer to die. This paper examines the language of these cases and the legal events that follow in order to illustrate the meaning of punishment in the Federal courts of the American justice system. It is argued that the Federal courts have been instrumental, as well as in concert with State and Federal lawmakers and the public, in furthering an extreme penal regime in the United States, the Supermax death row. By using Supermax units for the condemned, States like Arizona are transforming those waiting to die from sociologically and psychologically rich human beings into a kind of untouchable toxic waste that need only be securely contained until disposal. Therefore, those subject to the end-of-life experience may well be made more pliable and willing to die as a result. Notes, references
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Corrections effectiveness; Corrections research; Death row inmates; Evaluative research; History of corrections; Judicial decisions; Long-term imprisonment; Penology; Punishment
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