Juvenile Offenders

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Tammy Stanley

JUVENILE OFFENDERS AND THE DEATH
PENATLY
Juvenile Offenders and the ideas of how to punish them for their crimes has been a national topic of discussion with just about everyone you meet. From the local politicians to the concerned parent who worries about their children. What punishment juveniles should receive has always been a sensitive subject. From state to state, city to city the views and opinions vary and varies on what should be the correct punishment for a juvenile offender. The juvenile justice system has changed throughout history, and one of the major changes was the Death Penalty being abolished in 2005 for juvenile offenders.

Some not even old enough to vote, own a car, or could even buy cigarettes, are where being placed in maximum correctional facilities on death row or either given life sentences for the crimes they have committed. However, society was sentencing these young offenders to death or a one-way ticket to a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

But does society really care that the juvenile offenders that were executed for their crimes were doomed from the day they were born? Without any remorse to what the situation was when they committed the crime, or what warranted the crime they committed.

Survival, protection, or something far more troublesome going on in their lives that made them do what they did. One will never know what makes a juvenile offender commit crimes but in this paper I will explore the legal, medical and the basic truth of why and if juvenile offenders should have even received the death penalty as a punishment, death.

From the beginning the juvenile system and the laws and guidelines of juveniles was even a hot debate even since the 1700’s. In the 1700’s juveniles were put into categories as to how they would be tried. A grasp of the current conflict surrounding the responsibility and direction of the juvenile justice system become more obtainable when one takes into consideration how the system has progressed since its inception.(2) The juvenile justice system was created in the early 1700 late 1800’s to reform U.S. policies regarding youth offenders. Since that time, a number of reforms- aimed at both protecting the “due process of law” rights of youth, and creating an aversion toward jail among the youth – has made the juvenile justice system more comparable to the adult system, a shift from the United State’s original intent. (3)

The Dialogue on Youth and Justice discusses the origins of the juvenile justice system to have had along defined line between juveniles and adult offenders. However, the lines have been drawn for different reasons and different places. Early in the 1700’s the legal system was governed by England and the American Colonies. During these times there was an important lawyer named William Blackstone.

His commentaries about the laws of England and juveniles were first published. His writings were widely read and admired by our Nation’s Founding Fathers. According to Blackstone there were two ways to distinguish when a juvenile should be tried as an adult. For a juvenile back then to be tried as an adult according to Blackstone two things were required to hold someone accountable for a crime. First, the person had to have a “Vicious Will” (that is the intent to commit a crime). Second, was the person had to commit an unlawful act if either the will of the act was lacking no crime was committed were liable to suffer as adults if found guilty of a crime. (5)

However, Blackstone in this idea of thinking had Gray Zones for juveniles of certain ages, where between 7 to 14. A child in this range would be presumed incapable of a crime. If, however it appeared that the child understood the differences between right and wrong the child could be convicted and suffer the full consequence of the crime. These consequences could include death in capital crime. Mr. William Blackstone...
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