Juveniles & Death Penalty

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JUVENILES AND THE DEATH PENALTY

CRMJ400 – CRIMINOLOGY
DEVRY UNIVERSITY
SHALAUNDRA REED
launy.reed@wellsfargo.com
704-968-6803
NOVEMBER 2010

JUVENILES AND THE DEATH PENALTY1

March 1, 2005 was the day that the Supreme Court ended the death penalty for juveniles that committed vicious crimes such as murder prior to their 18th birthday. “"The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.” (Totenberg) There has and always will be a division amongst society as to whether or not this decision was the right and whether the Justices who voted for the abolishment of the death penalty were correct.

While this decision came five years ago, the juveniles of today are committing more heinous and violent crimes than in years prior to and the repercussions for their crimes are not working. Understandably the law believes that juveniles do not possess the ability to make logical and conscience decisions, but is that really true. Most juveniles today are very intelligent and methodical individuals and in possessing such abilities, it leads one to believe that perhaps the decision to end the death penalty was not a good one.

We live in a society that views minorities as ignorant and lacking the basic skills needed in order to survive. It is because of this mindset that I feel ending the juvenile death penalty was in fact the right thing to do. Not because the offender had not reached the age of majority but because the death penalty was very bias and more minorities were put to death at unequal rates as compared to their white counterparts. For example in March of 2004, “of last 10 juveniles executed in Texas, number who were black or Hispanic: 9” (ABA) Aside from the system being used inappropriately, the law also deemed that all children under the age of...
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