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Victim Impact Statements Considered in Sentencing: Constitutional Concerns.

Stevens, Mark
June 4, 2015

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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