Juvenile Death Penalty
Juvenile Death Penalty One of the most controversial questions in the juvenile justice system today is, “Should the death penalty be applied to juveniles? ”. A lot of people think that the death penalty for juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment and should only be used for adults. The crimes that juveniles commit are as dangerous and as violent as adult crimes. People argue that the adolescent brain does not mature until the late teens or early twenties, and that death penalty should not be the resolution.Some studies show that childhood abuse or neglect can causes the child to commit crimes when they grow to adulthood.
Debate about the use of the death penalty for juveniles has grown more intense because of the crimes they are committing. In this paper I will talk about the history, why people oppose of the juvenile death penalty and why others are in favor of juvenile death penalty. Since the death penalty was enforced there have been approximately 20,000 people have been legally executed in the United States in the past 350 years.Thomas Graunger, the first juvenile known to be executed in America, was tried and found guilty of bestiality in 1642 in Plymouth Colony, MA (Hale, 1997). (1) Thomas Graunger was executed because he had some type of sexual activity between a non-human animal. Since 1642, at least 366 juvenile offenders have been executed, an average of almost exactly one per year. (1) These 366 juvenile offender executions have been imposed by 38 states and the federal government, and they constitute less than 2% of the total of about 20,000 confirmed American executions since 1608.
Juvenile Death Penalty Essay Example
Since the first execution and now there have been a lot of laws that have been approved by the Supreme Court that have made it harder to have a get a juvenile convicted to the death penalty. Currently, 38 States authorize the death penalty; 23 of these permit the execution of offenders who committed capital offenses prior to their 18th birthdays. (1) The Supreme Court decided its first juvenile case, Kent v. United States, in which it limited the waiver discretion of juvenile courts.Kent held that juveniles were entitled to a hearing, representation by counsel, access to information upon which the waiver decision was based, and a statement of reasons justifying the waiver decision. It included the sophistication and maturity of the juvenile as determined by consideration of his or her home life, environmental situation, emotional attitude, and pattern of living. These rights we made so that the justice courts can provide guidance and rehabilitation for the juvenile also with protection for society.
There are some juveniles out there who are extremely dangerous and do not wish to change the way they are living their life. In 1988 the case of Thompson v. Oklahoma it claimed that the Constitution prohibits execution for crimes committed at age 15. The outcome of the decision was that a State’s execution of a juvenile who had committed a capital offense prior to age 16 violated Thompson unless the State had a minimum age limit in its death penalty. 2) The court decided that juveniles younger than 16 when they committed a crime may not be executed. Wayne Thompson is serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. Another case in the juvenile death penalty cases is Atkins v.
Virginia; The U. S. Supreme Court banned the execution of mentally retarded persons in 2002. Justices ruled that executing mentally retarded criminals violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The most important case in the Unites State Supreme Court was, Roper v.Simmons. By a vote of 5-4, the U.
S. Supreme Court on March 1, 2005 held that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed. (4) Simmons, at the age of 17, when he was still a junior in high school, committed murder. About nine months later, after he had turned 18, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to death. The State charged Simmons with burglary, kidnapping, stealing, and murder in the first degree.Simmons was 17 at the time of the crime he was outside the criminal jurisdiction of Missouri’s juvenile court system. As a result of the ruling in Simmons, juvenile death penalty statutes in 20 states are unconstitutional and 72 juveniles living on death rows in these states will no longer face execution.
On August 26, 2003, the Supreme Court of Missouri set aside Chris’ death sentence and re-sentenced him to life without parole. (3) Some of the arguments that favor the juvenile justice system think that by having the death penalty it will decrease crimes in our county.Juvenile death penalty is allowed in 19 separate state jurisdictions, each is authorized to go its own way, and the justifications for this practice among these states can be expected to differ. (6) “(1) Violent juvenile crime, particularly homicide, is perceived to be much worse in the United States than in most other countries; (2) Juvenile homicide rates increased substantially until the mid- to late-1990s. Although they have fallen dramatically since that time, public fear of juvenile homicide remains very high. 3) Juvenile murderers seem to be particularly brutal and nonresponsive to civilized entreaties to stop the killing. (4) Almost every political leader is pushing strongly for harsher punishments for violent juvenile crime; and (5) Correcting the societal conditions which breed violent juvenile crime seems to be a huge task nearly impossible to achieve in any significant measure.
” (The Juvenile Death Penalty Today by Victor L. Streib, pg 13) There are also arguments that are against the juvenile death penalty some of the concerns are that almost all of the teenage offenders have had terrible childhoods.Since they have very traumatic youth, they are not able to get out of the trauma that they are experiencing and commit some of the most horrific crimes. The threat of capital punishment does not deter teenagers who tend to have little realistic understanding of death and instead tend to see themselves as immortal. Medical research during the past decade indicates that the adolescent brain does not mature organically until the late teens or early twenties, with impulse control being the last to fully develop. 2) In conclusion, juveniles that are sentenced to capital punishment are now more than likely going to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A juvenile being sentenced to the death penalty is very controversial in right now in the United States.
I think that juveniles should not be sentenced to the death penalty because when juveniles commit their crime they really do not understand the consequences of their actions. Adolescents do not think the same way as adults do, their emotions, judgment, identity and hormones are changing during this time.