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Unpublished Paper
Equal Rights for Equal Rites?: Victim Allocution, Defendant Allocution, and the Crime Victims' Rights Act
ExpressO (2007)
  • Mary Margaret Giannini
Abstract
The federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) grants victims the right to be reasonably heard at sentencing. In the course of examining this right, courts and commentators have referenced the defendant’s analogous right of sentencing allocution as a model or benchmark for the victim’s sentencing right. However, beyond the invocation of the defendant’s corollary right, there has been little analysis of whether defendant allocution does in fact serve as a model for victim allocution. This piece examines with particularity how victim allocution under the CVRA is currently being practiced in the federal courts, and how that practice compares to defendant allocution. The article reveals that the driving goals and purposes for victim allocution focus primarily on providing victims with the opportunity for empowerment and personal transformation through their participation in the ritual of sentencing. Conversely, defendant allocution is justified primarily for the mitigating effect it may have on a defendant’s sentence, while the restorative or humanizing benefits which may be afforded to the defendant through the rite of allocution are de-emphasized. In response to this disparity, this article contends that allocution for both victims and defendants should be grounded in the transformative power of the ritual of sentencing, rather than being limited to merely a mitigating function.
Keywords
  • Victims' rights,
  • defendants' rights,
  • sentencing allocution,
  • ritual in the law
Disciplines
Publication Date
November 2, 2007
Citation Information
Mary Margaret Giannini. "Equal Rights for Equal Rites?: Victim Allocution, Defendant Allocution, and the Crime Victims' Rights Act" ExpressO (2007)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mary_margaret_giannini/1/