Tuer sans remords, une histoire de la peine de mort en Californie de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours

Abstract : This dissertation studies the death penalty in California from the trial to the execution. It begins at the end of the 19th century, when hangings were moved behind the walls of state penitentiaries, and goes to the current period. This study is primarily based on the analysis of the San Quentin Execution Files and the applications for pardon made to the Governor. The theoretical framework is largely inspired by M. Foucault's views on the "power to punish" and also by perspectives opened by N. Elias' "process of civilization". The key problem this study sets to solve is the growing separation between the imposition of the death penalty and its infliction. The answer is threefold. First, capital trials in California became more complicated as the State adopted the "bifurcated trial" as early as 1954. Appeals to the California Supreme Court and later to the federal courts offered new hopes for the condemned. At the same time, pardon by the Governor became rarer. Secondly, the incarceration of the condemned completely changed. Beginning in the 1940s, a network of surveillance by guards, doctors and psychiatrists surrounded the condemned. As the time before an execution went from months to years in the 1980s, death-penalty inmates received civil rights almost comparable to other prisoners. Finally, the method of execution also displayed some very distinctive evolutions. California picked the gas chamber in 1938 as a modern and painless way to execute its condemned. However in 1992 a federal judge declared it unconstitutional. The surrogate method, lethal injection, also ran into troubles in 2006. It does not solve the question of pain and dignity.
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Contributor : Simon Grivet <>
Submitted on : Friday, October 7, 2011 - 4:09:09 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 10:44:03 AM
Long-term archiving on: Sunday, January 8, 2012 - 2:20:30 AM


  • HAL Id : tel-00628649, version 1



Simon Grivet. Tuer sans remords, une histoire de la peine de mort en Californie de la fin du XIXe siècle à nos jours. Histoire. Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), 2011. Français. ⟨tel-00628649⟩



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