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Death and Other PenaltiesPhilosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration$
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Geoffrey Adelsberg, Lisa Guenther, and Scott Zeman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265299

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265299.001.0001

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Death Penalty “Abolition” in Neoliberal Times

Death Penalty “Abolition” in Neoliberal Times

The SAFE California Act and the Nexus of Savings and Security

Chapter:
(p.106) Death Penalty “Abolition” in Neoliberal Times
Source:
Death and Other Penalties
Author(s):

Andrew Dilts

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823265299.003.0007

On November 6, 2012, the state of California was poised to become the eighteenth state in the United States to abolish the death penalty, replacing it with a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act (The SAFE California Act) appeared on the statewide ballot as Proposition 34 and would have overturned a previous 1978 ballot initiative that restored the death penalty in California. This chapter takes up the case of Prop. 34 to examine the meaning of death penalty abolition at the nexus of neoliberalism and penality, reading the failure of the referendum's passage as part of the way in which sovereign modes of power function within and possibly against neoliberalism. It attempts to understand how “abolition” of the death penalty appears most possible when its form is not an abolition at all but rather the substitution of one kind of death for another: of “death-in-prison” rather than execution.

Keywords:   death penalty abolition, capital punishment, neoliberalism, SAFE California Act, Proposition 34, life imprisonment

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