Most jurisdictions around the country permit juries to consider victim impact statements, statements taken from the family of a victim of violent crime relating to the family's loss, during the sentencing phase of criminal trials. In 1994, the Missouri Supreme Court followed this trend in State v. Wise by approving the use of victim impact statements, and allowing the statements to be presented to the jury at the sentencing stage of a capital punishment trial. Despite the constitutionality of the introduction of a victim's family's statements, the statements have been severely criticized for: (1) rendering the sentencing of a criminal an arbitrary process; (2) imposing the death penalty based on factors that were unknown to the defendant and irrelevant to the defendant's decision to kill; and (3) misplacing the jury's attention on the victim, instead of the defendant, at the sentencing stage of the trial.

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