Covictims of Capital Murder: Statements of Victims' Family Members and Friends Made at the Time of Execution

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Abstract:

The death penalty is often touted as a punishment providing the only way to truly serve justice and offer closure for covictims (defined as family members or friends of murder victims'). These rationales are rarely structured around the actual words of these individuals, however. The findings in this study suggest that such rhetoric oversimplifies and often misrepresents the experiences and perspectives of covictims. Through their own words, we learn that the death penalty is not always the soothing salve for the pain and suffering of covictims we wish it to be. Rather, we find much more ambivalence and complexity in the statements of covictims. The impact of the death penalty and executions on covictims and their ability to attain healing and closure is not so clear cut. By presenting the actual words of capital murder covictims at the time of execution, this inductive, exploratory study provides a novel glimpse at the perspectives of these individuals and their perception of the death penalty process.

Keywords: CLOSURE; DEATH PENALTY; EXECUTIONS; HEALING; MURDER COVICTIMS; TRANSFORMATION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/088667007782312131

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Violence and Victims discusses theory, research, policy, and clinical practice in the area of interpersonal violence and victimization across such disciplines as psychology, sociology, criminology, law, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, and social work.

    The journal's 2012 Impact Factor is 0.981.
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