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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 221130 Find in a Library
Title: Covictims of Capital Murder: Statements of Victims' Family Members and Friends Made at the Time of Execution
Journal: Violence and Victims  Volume:22  Issue:5  Dated:2007  Pages:601-619
Author(s): Scott Vollum Ph.D.; Dennis R. Longmire Ph.D.
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study attempts to examine whether the needs of healing, closure, and psychological adjustment are met with the sentencing of an offender to death, and it attempts to shed light on the experiences and perspectives of covictims regarding the death penalty process and the execution of the individual responsible for their loss.
Abstract: The grief of covictims in the aftermath of murder is especially acute given the extraordinary traumatic nature of the loss. The needs of covictims in the weeks, months, and years following the murder are many and diverse but often revolve around notions of closure and healing, of moving on with one’s life in the wake of the tragedy one has experienced at the hands of a murderer. The statements of covictims in this article reinforce the importance of these elements for covictims. In an overwhelming majority of cases, covictims bring up factors related to healing and closure. However, there is some ambivalence in regard to whether the execution or death penalty assists or hinders the meeting of these needs. It appears that meeting these needs in the context of the retributive punishment of death is elusive. In many cases, victims report finding little solace in the fact that the condemned inmate who killed their loved one will be or was killed. The most common specific themes were expressions of dissatisfaction with the execution and/or death penalty more generally. There was dissatisfaction with the length of time it took before the execution was finally carried out, and dissatisfaction with something the condemned said or did at the time of execution. This study builds from previous studies and examines the breadth and depth of covictim statements. Covictim statements were obtained through articles reporting on executions. Using content analysis, 10 major thematic categories of statements were identified and examined. Table, notes, references
Main Term(s): Capital punishment
Index Term(s): Families of crime victims; Homicide victims; Murderers
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