Posted: June 9th, 2022
Victim Impact Statements (hereinafter referred to as “VISs”) are statements read by, or on behalf of, crime victims at the sentencing phase of criminal trials. VISs have been occasionally constitutionally challenged in American courts. The challenges have typically been that VISs conflict with the Eighth Amendment’s “Proportionality Doctrine”, which holds that punishment, must be proportional to the crime. The United States Supreme Court has considered three times in recent years whether the reading of a VIS at the sentencing phase of criminal proceedings is constitutional. See: Booth v. Maryland, 482 U.S. 496 (1987); Gathers v. South Carolina, 490 U.S. 805 (1989); Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U.S. 808 (1991). Please review these cases and make an argument for or against the use of victim impact statements at sentencing. Write a 2-3 page paper discussing the pros and cons of this practice and what your preference would be.
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