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Hearing the victim’s voice amidst the cry for capital punishment

Acker, James R.
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In, Dennis Sullivan and Larry Tifft editors, “Handbook of Restorative Justice” A Global Perspective. London and New York: Routledge. Taylor & Francis Group pp.246-257

This chapter critically examines the justifications for capital punishment offered in the name of murder victims and their survivors. It begins with a brief overview of death-penalty laws and practice in the United States, with a particular focus on whether capital punishment is likely to promote the interests of murder co-victims. It then explores the premise that victim impact evidence affords murder victims’ survivors meaningful input into the criminal justice process, a process that in capital cases has been activated to secure the offender’s death. Initiatives designed to infuse restorative justice into death-penalty systems then are reviewed. The chapter concludes by arguing that capital punishment offers false promises to murder victims’ survivors, more likely to be destructive and work new injustices than promoting principles faithful to restorative justice. (excerpt)


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