Essay on Should the Death Penalty Apply to Juvenile Criminals?

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Day after day in this country there is a debate going on about the death penalty and whether we as people have the right to decide the fate of another persons life. When we examine this issue we usually consider those we are arguing about to be older men and women who are more than likely hardened criminals with rap sheets longer than the height we stand (Farley & Willwerth, 1998). They have made a career of crime, committing it rather than studying it, and somewhere along the line a jury of their peers decided enough was enough. They were handed down the most severe and most final punishment of them all, death. Behind all of the controversy that this issue raises lies a different group of people that are not so often …show more content…
The history of the death penalty being imposed on juveniles spans all the way back to almost the beginning of our country. In 1642, Thomas Graunger of Plymouth Colony,
Massachusetts, was the first juvenile, to be sentenced to death and executed in our country for a crime that he committed (Executions, 2000). Since the start of capital punishment (or the recording thereof) in 1608, there has been around 19,200 executions in the United States of all ages. Of that total number, experts believe approximately
356 of them were juvenile executions, meaning that the crime that the individual was sentenced for took place before the offender was eighteen years of age (Gonnerman, 2000). This accounts for about 1.8% of all executions from the start of capital punishment to present (Executions, 2000). Since
1973 there has been 196 death sentences handed out to juveniles and seventeen of those have ended in actual execution (Streib, 2000). Table 1 lists those seventeen individuals that have been executed since 1973, their date and place of execution, their race, and their age both when they committed their crime and when they were executed. The juvenile justice system was born in 1899 at which time it was recognized as separate from the regular justice system that dealt with adult offenders (Ricotta, 1988). At the start, the stated objectives of the juvenile justice system was "...to provide measures of guidance

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