Covictims of capital murder: Statements of victims' family members and friends made at the time of execution

Scott Vollum, Dennis R. Longmire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-619
Number of pages19
JournalViolence and Victims
Volume22
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

Keywords

  • Closure
  • Death penalty
  • Executions
  • Healing
  • Murder covictims
  • Transformation

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