Article

Capital Punishment as Closure: The Limits of a Victim-Centered Jurisprudence

LSN: Criminal Law (Public Law) (Topic) 04/2007;

ABSTRACT This Article, a contribution to the Symposium Meting Out Justice: Fairness and Finality in the Death Penalty (Spring 2001) argues that in the United States, debates over capital punishment are increasingly influenced by victim's rights movements seeking to reshape the criminal justice system in ways that individual victims may experience closure. While legislation, policies, and a proposed Constitutional Amendment broadly confirm the internalization of victim-centered notions of closure, the impact on death penalty debates has been ambivalent. This is because victim's rights movements are themselves divided between those proposing vengeance or mercy as routes to "closure." This Article criticizes the former group and cautions to the latter, urging skepticism toward any expectation that meaningful closure might be achieved through the limited means of the criminal justice system.

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