Chapter 5: Defending Life
Life Without Parole: America's New Death Penalty? (Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. & Austin Sarat eds., NYU Press 2012)
24 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2013
Date Written: 2012
This chapter interrogates what it means to defend LWOP as an alternative to death. In demanding the abolition of the death penalty — as cruel and unusual, as violative of equal protection, as immoral, and as an inefficient deterrent — have abolitionists unwittingly erected another evil, another type of death, LWOP? One of the most visible flaws in the imposition of the death penalty has been its linkages, historically and now, to race. What does it mean that LWOP, by contrast, is largely invisible, rendering race largely invisible? What does it mean to defend LWOP, that other death, in a society where the resources to defend are miniscule compared to the resources to defend actual death? Finally, what does it mean to us as citizens to live in these new cities, newly configured, sanitized, and purged — again, often along racial lines, and almost always along class lines — via the tool of LWOP?
Keywords: Death penalty, life without parole, criminal law, sentencing, three strikes, retribution, deterrence, cruel and unusual punishment, mass incarceration, race
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