The Waiver and Withdrawal of Death Penalty Appeals as “Extreme Communicative Acts”

By Avi Brisman / Western Criminology Review, on 1 January 2010

This paper explores the power struggle between the State and the condemned over the timing and conditions under which an inmate is executed. It begins with a discussion of current public opinion about the death penalty and the ways in which the death penalty has been resisted. Next, it describes capital defendants who elect execution over life imprisonment and considers some of the reasons proffered for waiver and withdrawal. This paper then contemplates whether some instances of “volunteering” should be regarded as “extreme communicative acts” (Wee 2004, 2007)—nonlinguistic communicative acts that are usually associated with protest, especially in the context of a lengthy political struggle (such as hunger strikes, self-immolation, and the chopping off of one’s fingers). In so doing, this paper weighs in on the larger questions of who ultimately controls the body of the condemned and what governmental opposition to waiver and withdrawal may reveal about the motives and rationale for the death penalty. This paper also furthers research on how the prison industrial complex is resisted and how State power more generally is negotiated.

  • Document type Article
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Networks,