Source: (2003) Cornell Law Review. 88: 382.

The authors of this essay observe at the outset that a capital charge against a capital defendant profoundly affects the individual family members of the defendant. While many issues related to capital punishment have been studied extensively, little attention has been given to the social and psychological consequences of capital punishment on family members of the defendant. In this study then, through interviews with family members of nineteen capital defendants, the authors seek to demonstrate that the death penalty harms and indeed victimizes those family members. The neglect of a defendant’s family members not only harms the families directly, but may also affect the capital trial and sentencing process. For example, the psychological trauma experienced by family members of the defendant may impede their ability to assist with the investigation and presentation of mitigating evidence. As the authors make clear, the theoretical setting for this study includes the victims’ rights movement and the restorative justice movement.