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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 120142 Find in a Library
Title: Booth v. Maryland and the Individual Vengeance Rationale for Criminal Punishment
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:80  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1989)  Pages:177-196
Author(s): P Boudreaux
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 20
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the Supreme Court's decision in Booth v. Maryland and supports a vengeance rationale for criminal punishment, emphasizing that individuals in society must feel a visceral satisfaction when they see a criminal punished for his crime.
Abstract: When evidence of the effect of a crime on its victims and their families is used to determine a sentence, focus should not be society's need for retribution. The socially-oriented idea of just deserts is not an effective rationale for criminal punishment. Instead, members of society derive individual satisfaction when they know that a criminal is being punished for his crime. When individual vengeance is accepted as a rationale for punishment, then the effects of the crime and the victim's family are readily accepted. While the article does not grapple with the ethical and moral questions raised by the proposed rationale, it does acknowledge that courts considering individual vengeance could precipitate results in which varying sentences for the same crime are handed out. Additionally, the satisfaction gained by individuals when they know that violent criminals are punished argues strongly for the cause of victims' rights. 82 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Punishment
Index Term(s): Corrections policies; Sentencing recommendations; US Supreme Court decisions; Victim impact statements
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