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Getting EvenForgiveness and Its Limits$
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Jeffrie G. Murphy

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195178555

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195178555.001.0001

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Vindictiveness and the Law

Vindictiveness and the Law

(p.27) Three Vindictiveness and the Law
Getting Even

Jeffrie G. Murphy

Oxford University Press

Feeling vindictive is one thing, but seeking vengeance personally or through the law is completely different. This is the subject of this chapter. It explores the idea of victim vindictiveness and the degree to which it can be considered as a legitimate purpose of criminal punishment. At present, the area of the law that permits vindictiveness is through the use of victim impact statements in criminal sentencing. The purpose of these is to create an influence to those with discretionary sentencing authority. Also given in this chapter are arguments against vindictiveness. The chapter ends by suggesting that even if it is neither inherently irrational nor immoral, it may create dramatic dangers that should impose severe cautions on the willingness of a person to be led by this passion.

Keywords:   vindictiveness, vengeance, victim vindictiveness, criminal punishment, victim impact statements

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