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L'application de la peine de mort en France (1906-1981)

Abstract : Death penalty was about to disappear in France at the end of the 19th century. But the number of death sentences rose after 1906. The judiciary relied on the punitive emotions of the public opinion and on the criminological knowledge to eliminate some of the defendants. The capital punishment was very minor in the whole penal repression and its enforcement punished a small number of murders, considered as particularly heinous. The people sentenced to death came from the most miserable and less integrated parts of the society. Judicial discourses, such as speeches for the prosecution or the defense, or testimonies, confronted each other to determine if these people should benefit of mitigating circumstances. The functions of the death penalty were then discussed: deterrence, retribution, revenge or purge of the social body? Emotional as well as rational arguments were used. The cases were exposed at two different levels: a first time in front of the criminal court and of the citizen seating in the jury, a second time in front of the presidential advisors and of the President of the Republic, who had to decide of the pardon or the execution. The people sentenced to death had to wait their fate in particularly harsh conditions, which aimed at avoiding suicide or escape. Very strong rules framed their time and their space but some of them succeeded to adjust their environment for their own purposes. The preparation to death could be religious or secular. It the need arose, police, army, penitentiary staff, as well as the executioner and his helps were summoned to perform the execution, an act combining bureaucratic aspects and rough violence. In the other case the prisoner was held back to the ordinary prison system, where he could still risk another form of penal death.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01844403, version 1

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Nicolas Picard. L'application de la peine de mort en France (1906-1981). Histoire. Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - Paris I, 2016. Français. ⟨NNT : 2016PA01H056⟩. ⟨tel-01844403⟩

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