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Story of Cruel and Unusual

ISBN-10: 0262042398

ISBN-13: 9780262042390

Edition: 2007

Authors: Colin Dayan, Jeremy Waldron

List price: $16.95
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Description:

The revelations of prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib and more recently at Guantaacute;namo were shocking to most Americans. And those who condemned the treatment of prisoners abroad have focused on U.S. military procedures and abuses of executive powers in the war on terror, or, more specifically, on the now-famous White House legal counsel memos on the acceptable limits of torture. But in The Story of Cruel and Unusual,Colin Dayan argues that anyone who has followed U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment prohibition of "cruel and unusual" punishment would recognize the prisoners' treatment at Abu Ghraib and Guantaacute;namo as a natural extension of the language of our courts and practices in U.S. prisons. In fact, it was no coincidence that White House legal counsel referred to a series of Supreme Court decisions in the 1980s and 1990s in making its case for torture. Dayan traces the roots of "acceptable" torture to slave codes of the nineteenth century that deeply embedded the dehumanization of the incarcerated in our legal system. Although the Eighth Amendment was interpreted generously during the prisoners' rights movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, this period of judicial concern was an anomaly. Over the last thirty years, Supreme Court decisions have once again dismantled Eighth Amendment protections and rendered such words as "cruel" and "inhuman" meaningless when applied to conditions of confinement and treatment during detention. Prisoners' actual pain and suffering have been explained away in a rhetorical haze--with rationalizations, for example, that measure cruelty not by the pain or suffering inflicted, but by the intent of the person who inflicted it. The Story of Cruel and Unusualis a stunningly original work of legal scholarship, and a searing indictment of the U.S. penal system.
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Book details

List price: $16.95
Copyright year: 2007
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 3/16/2007
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 96
Size: 5.00" wide x 7.00" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.242
Language: English

Colin Dayan is Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of, most recently, Haiti, History, and the Gods and is completing Held in the Body of the State, forthcoming.

Jeremy Waldron is University Professor, New York University School of Law, and Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, All Souls College, University of Oxford.

Foreword
Trials of definition
Codes of law, bodies of color
Dead to rights
Mental states
The threshold of suffering
Tools of terror
Torture language
A new legal regime?
Giving flesh to history
Notes