Source: (2000) California Criminal Law Review. 2(3). Downloaded 1 November 2005.

Victim Impact Statements (hereinafter referred to as “VISsâ€?) are statements read by, or on behalf of, crime victims at the sentencing phase of criminal trials. VISs have been occasionally constitutionally challenged in American courts. The challenges have typically been that VISs conflict with the Eighth Amendment’s “Proportionality Doctrineâ€?, which holds that punishment must be proportional to the crime. The United States Supreme Court has considered three times in recent years whether the reading of a VIS at the sentencing phase of criminal proceedings is constitutional. The present constitutional status of VISs is that the proportionality doctrine “does not erect a per se barâ€? to the admissibility of VISs at sentencing proceedings, but the Fourteenth Amendment may provide a door to relief. This note examines the Eighth Amendment treatment of VISs by the Court, and the possibility of future Fourteenth Amendment due process challenges to the consideration of VISs during the penalty phase of criminal proceedings. Author's abstract.


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