Capital Punishment and Victims’ and Offenders’ Families

Authored by: Lynn Pazzani

Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138651579
eBook ISBN: 9781315624723
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines how capital punishment affects two seemingly different groups of people: capital murder victims’ families and the family members of offenders who commit capital crimes. For victims’ families, there is a discussion of the impact of the murder and loss on the family, both pro- and anti-death penalty families of victims, the concept of closure, and the negative impacts of capital punishment specific to the criminal justice system, or ‘secondary victimization’. For offenders’ families, there is a discussion of the emotional impacts of having a loved one involved in a capital trial and on death row, as well as the financial and social impacts of this process and, finally, a discussion of the impact of the execution itself. Although there is more research on the families of murder victims than on the families of murder offenders (Vandiver, 2014), one thing that is common to research on both groups is the extreme pain they suffer as a result of their situation.

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