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NCJ Number: 165517 Find in a Library
Title: "Abuse Excuse" Is Detrimental to the Justice System (From America's Victims: Opposing Viewpoints, P 138-141, 1996, David Bender, Bruno Leone, et al, eds. -- See NCJ-165502)
Author(s): A M Dershowitz
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: Greenhaven Press
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
Sale Source: Greenhaven Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
United States of America
Type: Survey
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The "abuse excuse" defense is dangerous because it enables people to abdicate responsibility for their actions, legitimizes vigilantism, and undermines faith in the criminal justice system.
Abstract: The abuse excuse represents a legal tactic by which criminal defendants claim a history of abuse as an excuse for violent retaliation. This defense is quickly becoming a license to kill and maim as more defense lawyers are using the defense. Recent excuses that have been accepted by some jurors include the battered women's syndrome, the abused child syndrome, the rape trauma syndrome, and the urban survival syndrome. By emphasizing historical discrimination suffered by particular groups, the abuse excuse seeks to introduce some degree of affirmative action into the criminal justice system. Nonetheless, there is no scientific validity to the abuse excuse. Rather, it is a symptom of a general abdication of responsibility by individuals, families, and groups. Its widespread acceptance is dangerous to the tenets of democracy which presuppose personal accountability for choices and actions. The worst consequence of the abuse excuse is that it stigmatizes victims with the violence of the very few who have used their victimization to justify killing or maiming.
Main Term(s): Victims of violent crime
Index Term(s): Criminal responsibility; Extreme emotional disturbance defense; Homicide causes; Lawful use of force; Psychological victimization effects; Self defense
Note: Opposing Viewpoints Series
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