A Postneoliberal Turn? Variants of the Recent Penal Policy in Argentina
This paper analysed the connection between the emergence and consolidation of a postneoliberal political program and alliance – Kirchnerism – and penal policies in Argentina. Three key moments are identified in this recent period. After the experience of an intense punitive turn during the 1990s and early 2000s, Kirchnerist political alliances tried to deploy a progressive political discourse and agenda on penal issues. Nevertheless, this initially coincided with a strong wave of penal populism ‘from below’ that continued the precedent trend towards increasing punitiviness. Since 2005, and for a brief moment, this tendency stopped. However, after that and during the presidencies of Fernandez de Kirchner a more volatile and contradictory scenario was generated. The incarceration rate between 2002 and 2014 in Argentina grew substantially as did the rate of convictions. Meanwhile the percentage of suspended sentences as part of the total convictions and the percentage of custodial sanctions both fell. Especially in relation to incarceration, these levels of change are not as stark as those of the preceding decades. However, the trends persist. Therefore, the question of how to transcend the dynamics of the punitive turn remains a pending and urgent political subject. The article argues the importance of analysing why a punitive turn is interrupted and presents an explanation of it.
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