This post is a short pros and cons essay associated with allowing the use of victim impact statements at sentencing. #fairtrial #rights #criminaljustice
Payne vs Tennessee
Having a victim impact statement allows the person’s affected by the crime to voice how the incident has affected their lives. One of the benefits of permitting these statements in court is to give the victim’s family a chance to come to terms with the reality of the crime. This may be the most emotional and life-changing moments of the trial. I agree with the courts allowing these victim impact statements. The permanent emotional trauma the families may bear should be on record. “The report is not just used for sentencing purposes, but follows the defendant into the prison system for use in determining classifications. It may also be utilized by the parole board in making decisions.” (Legal Professional)
Looking at both sides of the issue I could see how the accused could view the statements as prejudicial. After being found guilty most are probably hoping for a minimum sentence. The defendant can provide witnesses of their own, in hopes of rebounding their character. Despite of how emotionally provoking the crime and the victims’ statement may be; the judge should may a fair and impartial ruling based on the facts of the case. That is the defendant’s constitutional right. Since the defendant has the right to present mitigating evidence to their defense; the prosecution has the right to present damaging evidence. That is the mainstay of a fair trial. I agree with the court overruling the established precedent, the judge should consider all relevant evidence. That would be correct in a capital criminal trial.
Legal Professional. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2013, from The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children: http://www.pomc.com/impact.html