Roper vs. Simmons

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Roper vs. Simmons was one of the few cases in almost two decades to address whether it’s constitutional under the eighth and fourteenth amendments to execute a juvenile offender who was over the age of fifteen but under the age of eighteen when he/she committed a capital crime. In 1988, Thompson vs. Oklahoma banned the execution of minors who were sixteen years of age when they committed a capital crime. Another case, Stanford vs. Kentucky (1989), divided the court which eventually rejected that the Constitution excludes capital punishment for minors of this age group. Roper vs. Simmons overturned the decision in Stanford vs. Kentucky. Only seven countries in the past century have favored execution of minors convicted of capital crimes: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, China, and Congo. Before the case many Americans did not think that the execution of minors was considered cruel and unusual punishment if a capital crime was committed, but after the crime many Americans began to oppose it. Those seven countries have also, since then, prohibited these executions.

Christopher Simmons was a junior in high school at the age of seventeen when he committed a pre-meditated murder. Around nine months after the crime was committed when he was eighteen years of age, he was tried in court and sentenced to death. Simmons discussed his plan to kill Shirley Crook with his two friends Charles Benjamin and John Tessemer (ages fifteen and sixteen at the time), resulting from a car accident involving Benjamin and Simmons. Simmons’ idea was to break in to Mrs. Crook’s home, tie her up, and drive her to a bridge where he would throw her off of to her death. Simmons was under the impression that he and his friends could get away with the crime because they were minors. The three boys met around 2:00 A.M. on the night the murder was committed (September 9th, 1993). Tessemer backed out before the other two boys went on their way (he was charged with...
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