Paper Topic #5
In the state of Olympus fourteen year old Tony Simpson was charged and convicted of murder, burglary, and theft. Tony broke into the home of 72-year-old Felicia Lopez with the intent of stealing money and other valuables. Tony came in contact with Ms. Lopez in her bedroom and demanded she give him her purse. Ms. Lopez refused to hand over the purse which led Tony to hit her over the head with a heavy lamp found on her bedside table. The hit ended up killing her and Tony grabbed her purse and ran. Under Olympus law, anyone 14 years or older who is charged with murder must be tried as an adult. Tony was subject to the mandatory life imprisonment without parole. Tony appealed and argued that mandatory LWOP for murder exhibits cruel and unusual punishment when imposed against a 14 year-old offender. I argue that Tony Simpson should not be subject to life without parole and that his constitutional challenge is likely to succeed. It is cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th amendment to sentence a 14 year old child to life without parole. He is young and isn’t fully aware of the decisions he makes. Tony is also young enough to be rehabilitated, so why sentence him to death in jail when he has the ability to recognize his wrong doings and be treated? The Olympus law sentencing juveniles to life without parole is against the National Consensus which, therefore, unconstitutional.
II.JUVENILES AND LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE
From the beginning of the history of the United States and throughout the 1800’s, juvenile criminals (under the age of 18) were treated and punished as adults. By the nineteenth century, many child welfare advocates reformed the country’s view on children, and the states found it counter productive to convict children along with adults. States then recognized that minors are indeed young enough to be rehabilitated. Thus being said, the United States began discussing the idea of a separate justice system specifically for juvenile cases. In 1925 an official juvenile system has been established in the United States. “Juvenile courts do not exist to punish children for their transgressions against society…The aim of the court is to provide individualized justice for children…The delinquent is the child of, rather than the enemy of society and their interests coincide.” (Ogilvie at p. 229)
B.JUVENILE LWOP CURRENTLY
Since the United States abolished the death penalty for juveniles, states are also questioning the fairness of life without parole for juveniles as well. The death penalty was abolished for juvenile delinquents in the United States in 2005. It was considered cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th amendment. Although Roper v. Simmons appeared to be a positive result for juvenile justice, the states’ life sentence conviction is negatively affecting the outlook on juveniles who are currently facing this sentence and are being deprived rehabilitation. “Following the court’s decision in Roper, life without parole sentences replaced executions for juvenile offenders. Given that both the death penalty and life without parole impose a “terminal, unchangeable judgment upon the whole life of a human being” The question became: if juveniles are less culpable and thus less deserving of death, do the same principles mitigate against life without parole?” (Marquis at p. 265) Only a few countries worldwide allow court systems to sentence juveniles to life imprisonment without the possibility of release. Out of these countries, United States is the only country who currently has minors serving such sentences. There are 38 states out of the 50 who allow minors to be sentenced to life without parole. Out of the remaining twelve, seven of the states do not allow it and five do not use it.
III.CHALLENGES TO SENTENCING JUVENILES TO LWOP
A.Tony Simpson Should Not Be Sentenced To Life without Parole Because It Violates His...