What is the meaning of punishment today? Where is the limit that separates it from the cruel and unusual? In legal discourse, the distinction between punishment and vengeance—punishment being the measured use of legally sanctioned violence and vengeance being a use of violence that has no measure—is expressed by the idea of "cruel and unusual punishment." This phrase was originally contained in the English Bill of Rights (1689). But it (and versions of it) has since found its way into numerous constitutions and declarations, including Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the Amendment to the US Constitution. Clearly, in order for the use of violence to be legitimate, it must be subject to limitation. The difficulty is that the determination of this limit should be objective, but it is not, and its application in punitive practice is constituted by a host of extra-legal factors and social and political structures. It is this essential contestability of the limit which distinguishes punishment from violence that this book addresses. And, including contributions from a range of internationally renowned scholars, it offers a plurality of original and important responses to the contemporary question of the relationship between punishment and the limits of law.
Table of Contents
- "It’s Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law": Rationality, Force, and Changing Minds
- Cruel and thus not Unusual: Jacques Derrida’s Seminar on the Death Penalty
- The Violent Rhetoric of Accusation: Cicero and the Marcus Ameleus Scaurus Case
- The Colonialism of Incarceration
- "Ran away from her Master…a Negroe Girl named Thursday": Examining Evidence of Punishment, Isolation, and Trauma in Nova Scotia and Quebec Fugitive Slave Advertisements
- The Work of Death: Massacre and Retribution in Southampton County, Virginia, August 1831
- Civilising Missions and Humanitarian Interventions: into the Laws and Territories of First Nations
- The Rhetoric of Abolition: Continuity and Change in the Struggle Against America’s Death Penalty, 1900-2010
- "Too wicked to die": The enduring legacy of humane reforms to solitary confinement
- Nonviolent communion versus medieval ships of fools: Engaged-citizenry alternatives to Europe’s war on refugees
Austin Sarat, Robert Kermes, Adelyn Curran, Margaret Kiley, Keshav Pant
Kelly Struthers Munford, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, and Alex Hunter
Joshua Nichols is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada and a Fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation.
Amy Swiffen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.