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Mr. Police Dog, will you find my friends?
April 20, 2006 4:32 PM   Subscribe

You know what? There ain't no doors outta Hell, babe. Before serial killer nurse Charles Cullen was sentenced to 11 life sentences in New Jersey, some of the families of his victims were allowed to read Victim Impact Statements (audio) (videos linked at left) in which they not only told the court about the effect of the murders on their lives, but also told Cullen what they thought of him. While state laws differ, Victim Impact Statements are often allowed to be considered in making sentencing decisions, and sometimes creep into the guilt phase of the trial. The trials of Terry Nichols, Scott Peterson, and Zacarias Moussaoui all included Impact Statements. Some have argued that Impact Statements are needed to properly assess harm and balance mitigating and humanizing evidence allowed on behalf of the defendant. Others call it nothing more than institutionalized revenge. Would you want the chance to say "Burn in Hell" to a person who harmed someone you cared about, or does such talk have no place in the courtroom?
posted by banishedimmortal (51 comments total)

 
Would you want the chance to say "Burn in Hell" to a person who harmed someone you cared about

Yes, of course.

or does such talk have no place in the courtroom?

No, it doesn't. Is it a less serious offense against the state to kill someone who doesn't have friends or relatives?
posted by me & my monkey at 4:38 PM on April 20, 2006


Is it a less serious offense against the state to kill someone who doesn't have friends or relatives?

My thoughts exactly. I really don't think that victim impact statements have any right in any court that promises to be fair and impartial. A "guilt phase" of a trial? Yikes!
posted by arcticwoman at 4:45 PM on April 20, 2006


There is no way such prejudicial evidence should be allowed during the guilt phase of the trial.

During the sentencing phase I am more ambivalent. me & my monkey is right that the trial is about an offense to the state, which is why the state can prosecute even against a victim's wishes. If one proceeds directly from that principle, it seems that Victim Impact Statements should not be considered (unless one makes a tenuous connection between the hurt done to individuals being a type of hurt done to the state).

But I do think there is value in the court having a broad and holistic understanding of the consequences of the crime when assessing punishment. Mandatory sentencing guidelines bring with them all sorts of problems, and it is probably preferable to jettison those in place of a more malleable procedure. Neither way is ideal, though, and I think it is a really difficult issue.
posted by Falconetti at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2006


I agree, impact statements are a Bad Idea.

The guilt or innocence of someone is not predicated on how the victims friends and relatives have been affected by the crime.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:06 PM on April 20, 2006


Not to mention the existence of mistrials, where the guilty party is in fact proven innocent later. Kinda ruins the whole "We sure gave that bastard a piece of our mind for what he did to our little Suzie."
posted by odinsdream at 5:11 PM on April 20, 2006


Just to clarify, few people have argued that Victim Impact Testimony should be allowed during the "guilt" phase of a trial, when it is decided whether or not the defendant is guilty of each crime that he has been charged with.
Rather, Impact Statements are only allowed during the "penalty" phase of the trial, when, after guilt has been determined, the severity of punishment is decided.
They are also often used at parole hearings.
posted by banishedimmortal at 5:11 PM on April 20, 2006


After the plea agreement had been okay'd by all involved, the drunk driving repeat felon that put my son in a wheelchair stood and listened to our impact statements. It was in a closed courtroom and he already knew what his sentence would be, although the formality of the announcement came after our statements.

It was very liberating for myself, my son and daughter to see the man face to face that had hurt our family so badly. The man then asked which one of my sons was the one that had the most injuries (he was using a walker by that time) and apologized to him personally.

In our case, the impact statements had nothing to do with the penalty phase, it was strictly for our peace and it worked.
posted by hollygoheavy at 5:15 PM on April 20, 2006


Only if it brings the victim back to life.
posted by notreally at 5:21 PM on April 20, 2006


In a related matter, most civil courts allow testimony about what a great person the victim was or how horrible the suffering was in personal injury or wrongful death cases before the jury ever decides who is at fault. It is extremely prejudicial to the defendant to allow the jury to hear such evidence. Hearing about how Phyllis liked to go to church and feed the homeless has no bearing on whether Company X was ultimately resonsible for the safety netting at a construction site.
posted by flarbuse at 5:41 PM on April 20, 2006


"I hate you, Jeffrey Dahmer!"
posted by longsleeves at 6:08 PM on April 20, 2006


Perhaps sentencing should include forcing the convicted criminal to sit mute and listen to these statements, perhaps in a recording played in an endless loop in his/her clel, as a means of additional punishment -- and also as a means of the victims (or friends/relatives of) to ease their pain a bit?
posted by davejay at 6:28 PM on April 20, 2006


Oh, and hollygoheavy: I'm sorry that the incident happened, and I'm glad the impact statements provided a small measure of relief. I wish you, your son and your family all the best.
posted by davejay at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2006


davejay, one can never really be sure if psychological torture is going to be effective. We should just have the families stone the prisoner in public.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:56 PM on April 20, 2006


It was in a closed courtroom and he already knew what his sentence would be

That, I'm cool with.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 PM on April 20, 2006


Would you want the chance to say "Burn in Hell" to a person who harmed someone you cared about

No, because there is no hell but the ones we make for ourselves on Earth. But I'd like to the chance to, say, drive a sharpened iron spike into his eyeball. Not that I'd do it, necessarily, but refusing the opportunity would be cathartic.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:13 PM on April 20, 2006


I think there should be some way in which statements like these can be part of any trial. The way I see it is that our modern justice system really detaches both perpetrator and victim from the process, which forces victims especially to intellectualize their need for "revenge" or "justice" when the wants for same are not really intellectual in nature. So our formal system needs to include some formal way for emotional humans to be emotional humans toward one another, even if it just some words across a court room.
posted by chudmonkey at 7:13 PM on April 20, 2006


I think victim impact statements are perfectly reasonable during the penalty phase of a trial.

The defense certainly has the opportunity to talk about mitigating circumstances during the sentencing phase -- a miserable childhood, abuse by whoever, a hard time potty training etc.

So why shouldn't the "victim" or the victim's family (in the event of a death) get to speak about extenuating circumstances from their perspective.

I'm all for fair play but let's not skew the legal process in the convicted persons favor. Geesh. Get real folks. We're not talking about Mother Theresa here when it comes to murders, violent crimes and such.
posted by bim at 7:38 PM on April 20, 2006


Extenuating is obviously a wrong word choice. But you get my drift. :)
posted by bim at 7:42 PM on April 20, 2006


Please tell me that this means that I can make an impact statement thanking a murderer for making the world a better place by offing someone [who for the sake of argument, will be a terrible person, I'm sure], so long as it impacts me directly and positively, thus garnering the defendant a less severe sentence.
posted by elr at 7:50 PM on April 20, 2006


No, because there is no hell but the ones we make for ourselves on Earth. But I'd like to the chance to, say, drive a sharpened iron spike into his eyeball.
I could do that. Fuck cathartic, I would want vengence. I would enjoy the experience of being able to do that, personally.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:54 PM on April 20, 2006


I don't think there should be victim impact statements at any stage of a trial. Verdicts and punishments should be decided on logic and the law, not emotion.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:09 PM on April 20, 2006


Judges assign punishments based on a sliding scale -- that's why a punishment is "three to five years." The impact of the crime has relevance to this determination.

And before any of you stone-hearted peeps jump up to disagree with me (as I'm sure you will), please read this impact statement, quite possibly one of the most powerful speeches I've ever heard.

Part of me doesn’t want to speak to you or acknowledge you in any way, but I’ve decided that I have to address you because I hope to never see you again. I never want to hear your name or see your face. You don’t deserve a place in my family’s history. And so I want you to live. I want you to disappear into the abyss of a lifetime in prison where no one will remember you, no one will pray for you, no one will care when you die. Since Samantha’s death I have felt more hate and rage than I ever thought possible, but I love that little girl so much that it would be a horrible insult to her to let my hate for you take more space in my heart and head than my love for her.
posted by frogan at 8:24 PM on April 20, 2006


I gave a victim impact statement after the death of my son, who was killed by a man running from the police in a high speed chase. As bim stated above, the person convicted gets a chance to speak on their own behalf. It was only right that I be able to speak on behalf of my child, who will never speak again. My daughter, who was ten at the time, also had an opportunity to give a written statement, which was very important to her.

I believe that our statements, along with his own unremorseful rant, resulted in consecutive rather concurrent sentences for the various crimes he committed that day. Sentences are meted out based on a variety of circumstances surrounding the crime. Why shouldn't the victim have a right to be a part of that process?
posted by kit4kat at 8:56 PM on April 20, 2006


Sure, just as long as we accept that your murderer's sentence will be partly decided not by the crime, but whether anyone comes to tell the court about what a great person you were. Perhaps then the newly minted convict should have a chance to tell how you weren't such a great person and deserved what you got.

Sounds fair.
posted by dreamsign at 8:57 PM on April 20, 2006


This salient point:

Judges assign punishments based on a sliding scale -- that's why a punishment is "three to five years." The impact of the crime has relevance to this determination.

In conjunction with this point:

The defense certainly has the opportunity to talk about mitigating circumstances during the sentencing phase -- a miserable childhood, abuse by whoever, a hard time potty training etc.

Makes for a very convincing argument in favor of victim statements.

Perhaps then the newly minted convict should have a chance to tell how you weren't such a great person and deserved what you got.

That is silly in most cases since it would most likely just piss off the judge or jury. And anyway, the wife who kills her abusive husband or the guy who kills the person who molested his daughter do get this benefit already.

I don't think there should be victim impact statements at any stage of a trial. Verdicts and punishments should be decided on logic and the law, not emotion.

That sounds like a terrible idea. The law is part logic, part morality, part social consensus, part tradition, etc. Most of that has a very human component to it. If you want to have an adversarial legal system that employs juries and judges as factfinders and decisionmakers, then you have to accept that emotion will pay a significant part in a trial whether you like that or not.
posted by Falconetti at 9:12 PM on April 20, 2006


Frogan, I agree that's very lucid, but she should've stopped there. The 10 paragraphs that follow are an effective venting, but I think they weaken the overall impact (or they did for me, anyway).

Best Victim Impact Statement award still goes to Inigo Mantoya (Mandy Patinkinin) in "The Princess Bride"

“Now, offer me money.”
“Yes.”
“Power too. Promise me that!”
“All that I have and more. Please...”
“Offer me everything I ask for.”
“Anything you want.”
“I want my father back, you son of bitch.”

Of course, Inigo gets to run the bad guy through with a sword, too . . . could we add that component, maybe?
posted by Bixby23 at 9:15 PM on April 20, 2006


I gave a victim impact statement after the death of my son, who was killed by a man running from the police in a high speed chase. As bim stated above, the person convicted gets a chance to speak on their own behalf. It was only right that I be able to speak on behalf of my child, who will never speak again.

First, let me say that I'm really sorry that this happened to you and your family. But would this person who did this to your child have deserved less punishment if you hadn't been there to speak? Because that's the idea implicit to victim impact statements. Yes, the defendant gets to speak on his own behalf. But in our justice system, the person who's wronged doesn't get to speak on his own behalf - that's the job of the state.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:24 PM on April 20, 2006


I would enjoy the experience of being able to do that, personally.

Man, I've got to try a lot fucking harder at the black humour, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:26 PM on April 20, 2006


But would this person who did this to your child have deserved less punishment if you hadn't been there to speak? Because that's the idea implicit to victim impact statements.

Say what? The victim impact statement is one of many factors going into the determination of a sentence. It's not an issue of DESERVING (or do you mean receiving?) less punishment without a victim impact statement and more because of the existence of one. It's not that cut and dried, IMHO.

But in our justice system, the person who's wronged doesn't get to speak on his own behalf - that's the job of the state.

The fact that the justice system in many states DOES allow victim impact statements contradicts the claim that only "the state" gets to talk on behalf of the victim.

...and it's easy to sit here and be an armchair quarterback, but I suspect a lot of folks devaluing victim impact statements might feel a bit differently if their families were affected by a violent crime.

I'm not willing to deny the aggrieved folks an opportunity to voice their side of the story. Nothing more, but nothing less.
posted by bim at 9:49 PM on April 20, 2006


kit4kat

My heart is just breaking for you and your family. My sincerest condolences for you all.

davejay

I'm embarrassed to even say this after what kit4kat has been through, but thank you for your kind thoughts. The accident was when my son was 12, he's now almost 20 and a sous chef in an upscale restaurant here in town. The man that hit us is now out of prison as well.
posted by hollygoheavy at 5:53 AM on April 21, 2006


Perhaps sentencing should include forcing the convicted criminal to sit mute and listen to these statements

I've had similar thoughts, davejay. When the Twin Towers came down, and everyone started ranting about bombing and nuking for revenge, all I wanted was for Osama Bin Laden to be tied to a chair and forced to listen while every single person whose life had been impacted in any way by what he had ordered told him exactly what had happened. And I mean everybody-- the stories would range from as serious as "My wife and my son were there, and now they're dead," to as tangential as "Things were so chaotic that we lost two weeks of rehearsal time on Hamlet, and the production wasn't as polished as it should have been."

My condolences to hollygoheavy and kit4kat, and thanks for sharing your personal experiences in the thread.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:17 AM on April 21, 2006


> Others call it nothing more than institutionalized revenge

Institutionalized revenge or private vigilante revenge are the only two choices there are, in a functional system.

In a dysfunctional system, of course, you may have cases where the state suppresses private revenge without offering any institutional alternative--viz Great Britain. The descriptive phrase for this situation is "no justice" and the eventual cost is that the state loses the support of the citizens (note that I carefully did not say "the people") and hence its legitimacy.
posted by jfuller at 6:25 AM on April 21, 2006


Unfortunately that article linked to in the City Journal by jfuller is almost entirely specious and its author Theodore Dalrymple is a hardcore reactionary who spends his entire time ranting about the 'underclass'.

There's a semi-interesting point in it though: “If there were real justice,” he [a now semi-disabled lawyer after an unprovoked attack] said, “they would have gone to prison for life.” Could any compassionate person disagree?

If we allow victim impact statements then why are there sentencing guidelines at all? Clearly we are saying that the suffering of the victims (or the eloquence of those speaking on thier behalf) is important enough to affect the sentence handed down for a crime, so why have limits at all?
posted by patricio at 7:02 AM on April 21, 2006


I am not sure VIS should be used as part of the sentencing process but completely support their use at the end of the sentencing hearing. It being like, "you've been sentenced to X for doing Y and while you are serving this sentence it would be useful for you to reflect on what these people are about to say to you in terms of the effects of Y on their lives."
posted by Fezboy! at 7:40 AM on April 21, 2006


Say what? The victim impact statement is one of many factors going into the determination of a sentence. It's not an issue of DESERVING (or do you mean receiving?) less punishment without a victim impact statement and more because of the existence of one. It's not that cut and dried, IMHO.

Uh, yeah, it's one of many factors. But either it's used to affect sentencing, or it's not. If it is, the clear implication is that some people's suffering is worth more than others'. So, it is that cut and dried. Either it counts or it doesn't. I think it shouldn't.

...and it's easy to sit here and be an armchair quarterback, but I suspect a lot of folks devaluing victim impact statements might feel a bit differently if their families were affected by a violent crime.

Well, sure. I'd want the worst possible outcome for anyone who hurts my family or friends. That doesn't make it right. If we let victims' families decide punishment, we're right back at "an eye for an eye."
posted by me & my monkey at 7:50 AM on April 21, 2006


Well, gee is it possible to see both sides here? On the one hand, I don't see a reason to exclude victim's statements as part of the process outright. On the other hand, at least where the death penalty is involved, you have an undeniable bias in the system in which courts make decisions based on the race and status of defendant and victim. Of course I feel that 30 years of failure is a strong sign that the death penalty is inherently broken, but there are some issues here about how victim's statements should be evaluated that should be considered.

Another strong reason for the use of victim's statements is that the courtroom is the formal and official venue for resolving grievances. Except in rare cases, testamony in court is part of the public record.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:07 AM on April 21, 2006


Clearly we are saying that the suffering of the victims (or the eloquence of those speaking on their behalf) is important enough to affect the sentence handed down for a crime

Well, if the defense has a better lawyer than the prosecutor, then the effect is the same. You're convincing a jury or judge of the rightness of your argument. Unless you just have machines run cases, the strength (and presence) of the appeal to justice will (and rightly) be there.

Oddly enough, I was just working on Justice, though from a military setting (Nonjudicial Punishment) and many of the ideas that we hover around is what is the point of retributive justice? Should it be held as a deterrent? A correction? A punishment? I think a little of all of them. I think the point of criminal courts is to reconcile the offending individual back to the community. That means we take into account the harm done. That's why I think VIS can be used for good, if only it aids the process of reconciliation. Not to say they should be used to determine guilty or innocence though, but rather that a community must comes to terms with the criminal and the criminal with the community. Of course, the offense is the ultimate contribute of sentencing, but it isn't the only one.

I mean, this is one of the main reasons we have states in the first place, so you just can't defer to "It's an offense of against the state" solely.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 8:13 AM on April 21, 2006


Uh, how about a few less straw man arguments, m&my. That seems to be all your putting forth here.

Case in point: If we let victims' families decide punishment, we're right back at "an eye for an eye.

The victim's family isn't allowed to decide punishment. Period. They merely get to say their piece. And like it or not, that is the trend in our justice sysytem these days. Good.

If it is, the clear implication is that some people's suffering is worth more than others'.

Uh...I don't think that's the "clear implication" at all. This sounds as if the judge (and in some cases the jury) are complete boobs and can't weigh the relative merits of things. Very few things in life are "black and white." Get used to dealing with "shades of gray,"dude.

...and let me add my condolences to MeFi folks who have suffered grievous losses as a result of these crimes. Thanks for posting your side of the story.
posted by bim at 8:16 AM on April 21, 2006


FWIW, since my previous comments were about my experience but didn't exactly contribute much to the debate, my feelings on impact statements are that they are valuable pretty much only to the people that make them. I didn't expect that my feelings or my family's feelings would actually go very far towards an actual impact on the sentence. The sentence was predetermined-the guilt had been admitted to-my speaking was just for my own peace of mind and closure.

I really feel that the victims and families should have the right to say their piece to the defendent, but after the penalty phase. I don't think that a person should be sentenced more harshly because his victim's family was available, more well spoken or more openly angry than another.

I hope this made sense-I feel very strongly that the victims of crimes should have the opportunity to face the perpetrator, but I don't think that their statements should be taken into consideration during the penalty deliberations.
posted by hollygoheavy at 8:18 AM on April 21, 2006


"Victim" and "family of victim" are two different things. The victim of a crime has the chance to face the perpetrator in court during the trial phase -- unless of course the victim is dead, in which case the "feelings" of the victim are moot. It is not the responsibility of the family to prosecute the case, and making a victim statement is part of the prosecution. This participation is, I think, in the long run damaging to those who have already taken a terrific beating psychologically. Neither revenge nor denunciation contributes to the healing process, because both these actions focus the attention outward toward the perpetrator instead on inward. Healing is work you do on yourself and, whether you like it or not, is your own responsibility. The sooner the family of a victim of violent crime can start doing that work for themselves, the better. I really do feel that the more they are absorbed in "justice" or "closure" (which are just euphemisms for revenge), the harder it will be for them to make peace.

Justice is an ideal for which an entire society should work; it shouldn't be sloughed off on those who already have the burden of healing themselves.
posted by La Cieca at 9:54 AM on April 21, 2006


Good job linking to "straw man", bim. You might want to read that page you linked to, before throwing words around so freely.

Uh...I don't think that's the "clear implication" at all. This sounds as if the judge (and in some cases the jury) are complete boobs and can't weigh the relative merits of things.

Look, either it has an impact on sentencing, or it doesn't. To the extent that it does have an impact, that impact is arbitrary. Since you like Wiki links, here's one that might help you understand what I'm saying.

I really feel that the victims and families should have the right to say their piece to the defendent, but after the penalty phase.

I'm all for that.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2006


Look, either it has an impact on sentencing, or it doesn't. To the extent that it does have an impact, that impact is arbitrary. Since you like Wiki links, here's one that might help you understand what I'm saying.

Actually, I'm already well acquainted with the term ceteris paribus. Of course, the problem is that it doesn't bolster your argument and you're still attributing things to me that aren't really what I said. In other words, you're still missing the point. Oy vey.

I assume that you're saying that all others factors going into in the sentencing being constant, the existence of a VIS has an impact. I never disagreed with that and I believe that it's a perfectly legitimate consideration -- not arbitrary or capricious. Read what I said. You seem to be arguing with someone else. Hence, we are back to the "straw man."

The bottom line is that the folks who actually make the laws and are part of the judicial system have seen fit to include VIS is the judicial process. It is what it is. But feel free to keep spinning your wheels ad nauseam if it makes you happy. ;)
posted by bim at 11:10 AM on April 21, 2006


This participation is, I think, in the long run damaging to those who have already taken a terrific beating psychologically.

Why should anyone listen to what you think about it, when loads of people who have actually confronted their or their loved one's victimizer, in this thread and in real life, have come away feeling relieved and better because of it. My apologies if you are speaking from personal experience.
posted by Falconetti at 11:24 AM on April 21, 2006


I assume that you're saying that all others factors going into in the sentencing being constant, the existence of a VIS has an impact.

Then, with all due respect, what the hell are you arguing about? Why are you going on about "relative merits?" The underlying question in the FPP boils down to "should victim impact statements affect sentencing?"

I never disagreed with that and I believe that it's a perfectly legitimate consideration -- not arbitrary or capricious. Read what I said.

You said I should get used to "shades of gray." You said that judges would "weigh the relative merits." Why didn't you just say from the get-go that victim impact statements should affect sentences? Because, you know, that's not what you said at all. But anyway, thanks for the helpful advice about "shades of gray."

The bottom line is that the folks who actually make the laws and are part of the judicial system have seen fit to include VIS is the judicial process. It is what it is.

Again, thanks for the helpful advice. I was under the impression that the discussion was about "what should be," not "what is." I guess the whole idea of improving the human condition is a big waste of time.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:25 AM on April 21, 2006


I guess the whole idea of improving the human condition is a big waste of time.

I fail to see how VIS somehow prevent the the human condition from imrpoving.
posted by Snyder at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2006


loads of people who have actually confronted their or their loved one's victimizer ... have come away feeling relieved and better because of it

In the short run, perhaps. But leaving a flaming bag of poop on the doorstep of a teacher who flunked you also makes you feel "relieved and better" in the short run. Both are a form of acting out, and the problem with acting out is that it is a purely emotional response, and the "relief" gained from it is symptomatic and temporary. I would further suggest that a public performance of this kind of response invites a damaging kind of reinforcement, essentially validating the anger and hatred, and therefore extending the lifespan of these destructive emotions.

I am not minimizing the very difficult grieving process that the families of crime victims must go through. But it's counterproductive to say, "He's suffered a lot, so anything he feels like doing is going to be good for him." Very often what people feel like doing (especially when in great emotional distress) is precisely the wrong thing for them to actually do. Crime victims can be excused for thinking irrationally, but it's not right for the justice system to indulge and encourage this irrationality.
posted by La Cieca at 12:47 PM on April 21, 2006


Why shoudl the victim have any bearing on the punishment for a crime?

wouldn't sympathy for the victim and their family allow racism and other unfair practices to enter the system?
posted by Megafly at 12:58 PM on April 21, 2006


I really feel that the victims and families should have the right to say their piece to the defendent, but after the penalty phase.

Absolutely. Before then, it's prejudicial, and smacks of the game-playing done in civil trials. Besides, what happens if he or she is found innocent?
posted by FormlessOne at 1:23 PM on April 21, 2006


essentially validating the anger and hatred, and therefore extending the lifespan of these destructive emotions.

I wouldn't necessarily call anger destructive, and if you did, I wouldn't want to call it always negative. Anger prompts us to act. And we can just transmute it into love usually. We have to purge it; we need that catharsis. I'm not saying VIS are the appropriate way, but I'm just leery of claims that anger has no place, that emotion is something to be eliminated.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:28 PM on April 21, 2006


I fail to see how VIS somehow prevent the the human condition from imrpoving.

Maybe it doesn't; I don't know. But I can think of all kinds of reasons why they shouldn't be allowed to affect sentencing, and I'm not convinced by any of the arguments put forth here about why they should. The point of a discussion like this is to help people arrive at some sort of consensus about what's the right thing to do, right?
posted by me & my monkey at 2:48 PM on April 21, 2006


My understanding of sentencing principles is that impact is the exception in such calculations. The notorious example is impaired driving, where absent injury it's still a relatively minor offence. Be unlucky enough to hit (and kill or maim) someone and you're in big, big trouble. Again, this is usually cited as the exception to how sentencing is normally devised.
posted by dreamsign at 2:49 PM on April 21, 2006


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