Juvenile Justice: Can Juveniles be reformed or are extreme measures the only way we can deter crime?
December 2, 2010
Juvenile Justice: Can Juveniles be Reformed or are Extreme Measures the only way Deter Crime? The profound moral question is not, "Do they deserve to die?" but "Do we deserve to kill them?"-Helen Prejean (from his novel “Dead Man Walking)
At least 281 children under age 18 have been executed in the United States since the 17th century (Prejean). To many this may not seem like a huge number, however there is a growing concern about whether or not juvenile capital punishment should be allowed. The subject of capital is already a touchy subject for most but when the idea of juveniles is included, the argument gets especially sensitive. Most countries do not permit it but the United States is one of the few. National laws, and international practice and opinion all work against the juvenile death penalty. It is hoped that U.S. policy in the future will be more in line with the Model Penal Code notion that “civilized societies will not tolerate the spectacle of the execution of children”. The main question is, is this working? Are juveniles old enough to commit a crime and receive the ultimate punishment or are their minds not mature enough to even legally imprison them because their personality is still forming. The conflict of juvenile execution also ties in with trying young adults in juvenile courts. The same arguments are applied and many feel that too many minors are being sent to adult court. However the rebuttal is that minors sent to adult court only commit the most serious crimes and it is deserved. The debate goes on. How come life in prison doesn't mean life? Until it does, we're not ready to do away with the death penalty. Stop thinking in terms of "punishment" for a minute and think in terms of safeguarding innocent people from incorrigible murderers.- Jesse Ventura Supporters of the death