Should Juvenile Offenders Be Tried and Punished

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Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished with the death penalty as adults?

Juan Borrego
Grantham University

EN 102 English Composition II
Dr. Cynthia Williams
August 2010

This paper will focus on past cases of juvenile offenders that were given the death penalty based on reports found online (Internet). I will use that information to state in this paper ( non-Internet) the concept of the death penalty and the relationship with juveniles and adults. Many states incorporate the death penalty in their justice system for juveniles and adults alike. However, should the states give the same punishment to juveniles? Would it be fair to hold certain actions against a juvenile the same way they are held against an adult? Does the old idea of “An eye for an eye” really hold any weight in a fair trial? These are questions that I hope to answer in this paper.

Keywords: Juvenile, death penalty, offender

SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 3 Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished with the death penalty as adults?
The United States has different ways on how to handle it’s criminals. We live in a country that allows criminals be tried fairly and be judged by a jury of their peers. However, what if that criminal is a juvenile? What if that person that you have to decide their life is too young to comprehend what they have done? No one can ever imagine what went on in that person’s head while they committed a crime. So, those who are chosen to be members of the jury must be able to put their morals aside and come up with a reasonable solution to punish this criminal. Of course the first thing that everyone must think with they think about punishing someone who killed someone is to do the same on to them. However, is that just? Can we really use the concept of “ an eye for an eye” to hold a child accountable? These are questions that go through people’s minds. In order to really understand this, I will provide you with the legal view given by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. (Read: Article) I will also provide you with information taken by the United Nations in 2000 concerning the Death Penalty in the United States. ( Source: UN,ABC News, 2000)

The United States Supreme Court (2005) abolished capital punishment for juvenile offenders finding that it was unconstitutional to sentence anyone younger than 18 to death for a crime they committed. They stated that the death penalty for minors is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Along with their ruling, they said that teenagers are medically and socially too immature to be held accountable for their criminal actions. The higher justices ruled on this issue 5 to 4. SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 4

The supreme court based their ruling on the case of Roper v. Simmons ( Case No. 03-633) . The suspect in this case (Christopher Simmons) was 17 at the time he kidnapped and killed a woman (Roper). Simmons along with 72 others from 12 states were spared from facing death. Due to this ruling given by the higher court, juveniles are now only sentenced to life or other prison terms instead of facing capital punishment.

According to an investigation conducted by the United Nations only 5 years earlier (2000), the United States was the only country that strongly opposed the execution of minors as a form of punishment yet still did it. At that time, the only other countries that executed children under 18 are Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. These are primarily Muslim countries in which the concept of “ an eye for and eye” is strongly upheld. The United States since 1985 up until 2000 when this report came out, had executed more juvenile offenders than all the other countries combined. Only 20 years...
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