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(21) Paul Litton, The "Abuse Excuse" in Capital Sentencing Trials: Is It Relevant to Responsibility, Punishment, or Neither?, 42 Am.
Yet, the statistics and Otnow Lewis's own research do not bear out either the cycle of abuse or the abuse excuse. In a sample of 595 men, David Lisak, Jim Hopper, and Pat Song found that thirty-eight per cent of sexually abused males became perpetrators themselves (721).
The young people Hubner introduces us to are fierce in their demand that each among them take responsibility for the choices he has made, and in their rejection of anything resembling an excuse--including what the more flippant of the law--and-order crew have come to call "the abuse excuse." At Capital Offenders, an examination of past abuse is not a card played in an attempt to deflect responsibility but rather a starting point for a conversation intended to heal.
Dershowitz, The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-Outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility (Boston, 1994); and James Q.
If his effort to convince the reader of the dangers of a new abuse excuse is less than completely persuasive, it is because Downs himself overlooks or ignores such crucial details as the actual criminal law contexts in which abuse evidence is offered.
But that is no excuse, she argues, for abandoning the "reasonable man" standard, admitting every celebrity-killer "abuse excuse" and "sympathy defense" circumstances, or (a la her discussion of Johnny Cochran!s tactics) subverting the fact-seeking trial process with emotional pleas to "Send them a message." Her reasonable woman standard is as powerful as it is simple: The system should do everything within the realm of constitutional and moral propriety to convict and punish the guilty and acquit the innocent.
These excuses range from the Twinkie Defense, a claim of impaired judgment due to the toxic effects of junk food, to claims of psychosexual abuse, to the abuse excuse - that a woman may castrate or shoot a brutal husband even though he is asleep.
The "abuse excuse," a phrase coined and then exploited by provocative Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz in a 1994 book, constitutes shorthand for the complaint that too many criminal defendants win acquittal or leniency because of the deprivations or horrors of their existence.
Therefore, the way in which courts historically have treated psychological expert testimony is crucial to analyzing the abuse excuse defenses.
Retributive rage is fueled by our belief that an autonomous agent-self is in control, and when the existence or capacities of the agent are called into question-as they were in Susan Smith's case and in other "abuse excuse" cases such as the Bobbitt and Menendez trials-the rage diminishes.
His most recent book, The Abuse Excuse, which comes out this month, explores the phenomenon of using a history of abuse to justify violent conduct.
Having argued the only syndrome defense - urban psychosis - not maligned in Professor Alan Dershowitz's book is both a blessing and a slight, but it leaves this writer uniquely qualified to review The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility.