The Death Penalty is a controversial topic on its own. However, if you add the possibility of a minor receiving the death penalty it gets even more interesting. The Supreme Court case of Roper v. Simmons was a perfect example of that. Roper v. Simmons presented the Supreme Court with two questions: 1) whether or not the execution of those who were sixteen or seventeen at the time of a crime is cruel and unusual punished and 2) does is violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment. The main audience for this particular case is the general American population, and specifically affects the juvenile population.
Christopher Simmons, seven months shy of his 18th birthday, planned and implemented the murder of an innocent woman. Descriptions of the murder are thoroughly chilling. Reports exposed that Simmons and an accomplice bound the woman in tape and dropped her off a bridge, drowning her in the waters below. Simmons later confessed to the crime and even participated in a videotaped reenactment of it. If he had been an adult at the time of the murder, Simmons’ case would not raise any constitutional questions. But due to his age, the issue before the court was whether the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments allowed the United States to “execute a juvenile offender who was older then 15 but younger than 18 when he committed a capital crime.” Justice Kennedy affirmed the previous ruling in the Missouri Supreme Court. As a result, Simmons could not be considered for the death penalty due to his age, and his sentence remained at life in prison without parole.
Justice Kennedy went on to say, “it is the court’s reasoning that makes this case controversial, due to evolving standards of decency” (ROPER v. SIMMONS, (03-633) 543 U.S. 551 2005) since the ruling in Stanford v. Kentucky (1989), the Court has grounds to rule against the juvenile death penalty. In the Stanford ruling, the Court held that juveniles under the age of 15 could not be executed, “due to...
References: American Psychological Association. Roper. D.P. v. Simmons, C. (2004). Brief from the Psychological Association, & Missouri Psychological Association. as Amici Curiae supporting respondent July 2004. Retrieved May 20, 2011 from http://www.apa.org/about/offices/ogc/amicus/roper.pdf
ATKINS v. VIRGINIA, 536 U.S. 320 (2002) Retrieved May 20, 2011 from
ROPER v. SIMMONS, (03-633) 543 U.S. 551 (2005) 112 S. W. 3d 397, affirmed
Retrieved May 20, 2011 from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03-633.ZD1.html
STANFORD v. KENTUCKY, 492 U.S. 361 (1989) Retrieved May 20, 2011 from
THOMPSON v. OKLAHOMA, 487 U.S. 815 (1988) Retrieved May 20, 2011 from
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