Last Words and the Death Penalty: Voices of the Condemned and their Co-Victims

Last Words and the Death Penalty: Voices of the Condemned and their Co-Victims
Scott Vollum
December 2008

ISBN-13:  978-1-59332-436-0 / Paperback
Or  978-1-59332-264-9 / Hardcover
Dimensions:  5.5 x 8.5 / x, 304 pages


"Vollum analyzes the last words of condemned inmates and statements made by co-victims throughout the rituals of execution. The words of victims and co-victims provide a connection between offender, victims, and the community, each experiencing the damage and eventual repair brought by the crime and context in which it was committed. Vollum describes the restorative and non-restorative nature of these last words... Highly recommended. All levels/libraries." -- Choice


Vollum analyzes the content of the last statements of the condemned and statements made by co-victims; he seek to "give voice" to these two different groups. Vollum finds that the most dominant themes among the condemned center around transformation, redemption, and positive messages of connection to others. The most dominant themes of co-victims are more conflicting with a mix of frustration with the death penalty process, relief that it is over, and the desire for justice or revenge. Through their own words, we learn that the death penalty is neither a soothing salve for the pain and suffering of co-victims nor simply an extraction of evil and irredeemable criminals.

About the Author

Scott Vollum is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He teaches and researches in the areas of violence, death penalty, criminological theory, restorative justice, and research methods and has published his work in a variety of scholarly journals. He is also co-author of the book The Death Penalty: Constitutional Issues, Commentaries and Case Briefs.