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Mr. Police Dog, will you find my friends?

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 on Apr 20, 2006 - 51 comments

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