Life without Parole

America's New Death Penalty?

352 pages

5 figures, 2 tables illustrations

June, 2012

ISBN: 9780814762486

$28

Paper

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Authors

Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. is Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. Previous collaborations for NYU Press with Austin Sarat include From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America (2006), When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarraiges of Justice (2009), and The Road to Abolition? The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States (2010).

All books by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

Austin Sarat is William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College. Previous collaborations for NYU Press with Charles J. Ogletree include From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America (2006), When Law Fails: Making Sense of Miscarraiges of Justice (2009), and The Road to Abolition? The Future of Capital Punishment in the United States (2010).

All books by Austin Sarat

Is life without parole the perfect compromise to the death penalty? Or is it as ethically fraught as capital punishment? This comprehensive, interdisciplinary anthology treats life without parole as “the new death penalty.” Editors Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. and Austin Sarat bring together original work by prominent scholars in an effort to better understand the growth of life without parole and its social, cultural, political, and legal meanings. What justifies the turn to life imprisonment? How should we understand the fact that this penalty is used disproportionately against racial minorities? What are the most promising avenues for limiting, reforming, or eliminating life without parole sentences in the United States? Contributors explore the structure of life without parole sentences and the impact they have on prisoners, where the penalty fits in modern theories of punishment, and prospects for (as well as challenges to) reform.

Reviews

  • “One frightening by-product of the American struggle over capital punishment is the proliferation of Life Without Parole as its bastard offspring.  LWOP is embraced without scrutiny by abolitionists who assume that anything is better than execution.  It is enshrined as a prosecutorial consolation prize when cases meet the technical standards for 'capital' murder but defendants lack blameworthiness.  The unqualified condemnation of LWOP comes from a crazy displacement of distrust that puts extra suffering on offenders because citizens don’t trust those who govern.
     
    Fighting capital punishment must be a central concern in the United States.  But threats to human rights rarely develop one at a time, so injustice must be fought on multiple fields of engagement.  Ogletree, Sarat, and their distinguished contributors perform an important public service by taking a sustained look at yet another dangerous punitive excess.”

    —Franklin Zimring, William G. Simon Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley

  • "A timely and engaging wake-up call, Life Without Parole is the first sustained attempt to understand the meaning of the newest weapon in the American punitive armory. This provocative collection, clear-sighted in its prophetic potential, questions whether LWOP is a humane alternative to the death penalty or a fate worse than death. A must-read for all who want to understand the dark underside of twenty-first century democracy in a country where ever more citizens are condemned to a vast penal complex that redefines death as it expands criminality."

    —Colin Dayan, author of The Law is a White Dog

  • "Life Without Parole raises fundamental concerns both about the justice and the wisdom of this uniquely American phenomenon. It also poses uncomfortable questions for the reform community about the complex intersection between the death penalty and life without parole. If we hope to produce a justice system premised on human rights, we will have to find ways to respond to these challenges. Life Without Parole does a masterful job of pointing us in the right direction to begin that process."

    —Marc Mauer, Executive Director, The Sentencing Project

  • "An essential title for students of criminal justice."

    —Frances Sandiford, Library Journal

  • "An essential title for students of criminal justice."

    Library Journal

  • "The authors arguments are valid and strong."

    Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Book Review