Susan A. Bandes


Bandes discusses the polarizing function of victim impact statements used in the context of the death penalty. The use of victim impact statements is justified in order to promote closure for the victim, but it's unclear what psychological closure can be accomplished from the formal litigation process. Even if victim impact statements do help their authors, in the context of the death penalty the authors are family members of the victim, not the direct victim, and Bandes questions whether it's important to further their interests at the expense of the interests of the defendant. The only recourse for the jury is to deliver a sentence of death, so the statements have the effect of polarizing the conflict in ways that Bandes thinks interfere with promoting justice.

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