People that are socially dead are people that are denied the right to have rights; they are denied personhood and can be violated with little repercussions. Social death is produced through processes of social valuing, of considering some life more valuable than other, and the criminal legal system is essential to these valuing processes. In her presentation, Dr. Martha Escobar draws from the framework of social death and highlights some of the ways that Latinx (im)migrant lifers’ status of living dead shapes their experiences trying to obtain parole. This is part of a larger research project where Escobar analyzes transcripts of California parole hearings that took place between September 2007 and May 2016. The transcripts are of 138 Latina/o lifers. Similar to most states, California’s criminal legal system employs both determinate and indeterminate sentences. Determinate sentences are a specific time period and indeterminate sentences are a time range, and people sentenced indeterminately are commonly identified as “lifers.” These individuals have to present themselves to the Board of Parole, which conducts parole consideration hearings to assess an individual’s readiness to re-enter society. Imprisoned (im)migrants face deportation at the end of their sentences. Escobar demonstrates that for (im)migrant lifers, their (im)migrant positionality makes it increasingly difficult to meet the parole requirements and extends their time in prison.
Public Lecture, Monday, March 11, 2019, Cone 210, 2:30-3:45.
Free and open to the public!
Prof. Escobar appears as part of our series on "Immigration," cosponsored by the Chancellor's Diversity Challenge Fund.
For a series flyer, click here.