Should Juveniles Receive the Death Penalty?
Capital Punishment, or the penalty of death for crimes committed by a defendant, is a controversial topic in today’s society. In general, the public associates this method of punishment with adult offenders who commit heinous crimes. What about the defendants who are not adults? In some states, defendants as young as 16 years old have been tried as adults and eligible to receive the death penalty. Juveniles are being punished as adults, yet, in every other aspect of the law, they are not held to the same standards. Is it public outcry for justice to be served that allows for such a consequence for our children or should the juvenile justice system be responsible for implementing measures that protect our children from punishments of death?
The law states that United States citizens become of legal age on their 18th birthday. They are free to vote, buy cigarettes, incur debt, make their own decisions, get married, and be subjected to all adult measures of criminal prosecution for their crimes. (Ironically they still cannot legally rent a car, in most states, or purchase/drink alcohol). However, the Judicial system can retract this standard age and prosecute offenders to adult culpability as young as 16 (Death Penalty Information Center). Determining whether an offender can be tried as an adult most certainly has guidelines. The factors vary by state, but based on the Supreme Court's direction in Kent v. United States, they generally include the following: the nature of the crime; whether the offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, or premeditated manner; the merit of the charges; the sophistication, maturity, and prior history of the minor; public protection; and the likelihood that the child can be treated and rehabilitated (Hurabiell,et al.).
Most commonly, the debate to execute juveniles stems from individual interpretation of the U.S Constitution’s Eighth