Essay on Juvenile Capital Punishment

1950 Words May 5th, 2016 8 Pages
Laurie Mosley
Mrs. Kauffman
May 30, 2015 Juvenile Capital Punishment

The youngest offender ever executed in the United States was James Arcene, a ten year old Cherokee, who was hanged in Arkansas in 1885 for participating in a robbery and murder (James Austin, 2000). Juvenile capital punishment has always been a highly controversial and publicized matter. As a society we recognize that children, those under eighteen years old, cannot and do not function as adults. Because children do not function as adults, the law takes special steps to protect children from the consequences of their actions and often gives them a second chance. The law prohibits people under eighteen years old
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People also argue that if society would individually evaluate children to determine which of those were as mature as an eighteen to twenty one year old, then we could try them as an adult and allow them to participate in a capital punishment trial. Many people agree that many children would qualify to be tried as an adult if this method was adopted. In the United States, there have been more than 370 juvenile convicts executed for crimes that involve murder. In the year of 1988 the United States Supreme Court made it illegal to execute anybody below sixteen years old. Before this time even a fifteen year old could be put to death for capital crimes. The 1988 decision did not influence many states, for example the state of Texas conducted its last death penalty over a juvenile in 2002. The United States Supreme Court called this execution of a child a violation of the Constitution. They consider a child a person under the age of eighteen years old. The death penalty of children fewer than eighteen years old is immoral. Killing a child means killing a weaker human being that does not fully understand their actions. In a 2005 decision called Roper v. Simmons, the supreme court of the United States ruled that the execution of people who were under eighteen at the time of their crimes violates the federal constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishments (Shatz, 3013). The Roper opinion drew upon a 2002 decision by the

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