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NCJ Number: 151344 Find in a Library
Title: Triumph of Vengeance Over Retribution: The United States Supreme Court and the Death Penalty
Journal: Crime, Law and Social Change  Volume:21  Issue:2  Dated:(1994)  Pages:127-154
Author(s): K C Haas
Date Published: 1994
Page Count: 28
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: The author uses a review of Welsh S. White's "The Death Penalty in the Nineties" as a framework for analyzing recent trends in the United States Supreme Court's death penalty jurisprudence.
Abstract: Since 1976, the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment at least in part on the notion that the death penalty serves the useful social purpose of retribution. This article contends that it is imperative to distinguish between retribution and vengeance as rationales for criminal punishment. Modern retributive theory calls for punishments to be guided by considerations of proportionality, fairness, and equality. Vengeance-based punishments are aimed at satisfying the victim's and society's desire for retaliation and are not limited by the retributive principle that punishment must be proportionate to the severity of the crime and the moral blameworthiness of the offender. The article analyzes recent Supreme Court decisions that are not examined in White's book, decisions that allow the introduction of victim-impact evidence into capital sentencing proceedings and permit the death penalty to be imposed on 16-year-old offenders, mentally retarded defendants, and those who neither kill nor intend to kill. These decisions, it is argued, demonstrate that the contemporary Court has bestowed judicial approval on vengeance as an acceptable justification for capital punishment. Notes
Main Term(s): Courts
Index Term(s): Capital punishment
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