Capital Punishment’s Co-Victims

Authored by: Kyle A. Burgason

Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment

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

Print ISBN: 9781138651579
eBook ISBN: 9781315624723
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315624723-36

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Abstract

Capital punishment in the United States is often viewed through the lens of constitutionality. Is it cruel and unusual punishment? Are inmates provided with adequate representation during capital trials? Is there disparity and discrimination in capital sentencing and the executions themselves? Indeed, for nearly 250 years scholars have debated these issues as well as whether there exists a deterrent effect to the death penalty, religious and retributive arguments, cost, administration, miscarriages of justice, and impact on surviving family. Although this list may appear at first glance to be exhaustive, it is omitting a large and often ignored collection of people, the co-victims of capital punishment: those individuals who feel the impact of capital punishment as a result of the duty they have to the criminal justice system. Any examination of the merit of capital punishment should also include a discussion of the emotional and psychological toll the death penalty process can have on the law enforcement, courtroom, and corrections personnel charged with carrying it out. As Mitchel (2013) stated, these individuals have been speaking out with greater force recently about how it feels when the responsibility of taking the life of another person falls on the shoulders of an individual.

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