The Tsarnaev victims should have their say on sentence
Huffington Post - 04/29/2015
The reality is that officials not only listen to the views of crime victims but often craft charges and sentencing recommendations in light of what they are told. There is nothing wrong with this practice so long as the government doesn’t simply rubber stamp vengeful and punitive impulses, understandable as they may be, but makes decisions on the basis of the purposes of the law and the public interest. But for victims to have any faith in the criminal justice system they need to have an opportunity to express their thoughts and feel they count even if they’re not decisive.
Which brings us to the Tsarnaev sentencing hearing. In capital cases, victims have a legal right to testify on the harm the murder has caused, especially to the loss of the victim to family and friends. It is almost always the prosecution that presents such impact testimony to the jury at the sentencing phase of a capital case, often to devastating effect on the defendant’s chance to avoid a death sentence.