Running head: SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 1 Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished with the death penalty as adults? Juan Borrego Grantham University EN 102 English Composition II Dr. Cynthia Williams August 2010 SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 2 Abstract This paper will focus on past cases of juvenile offenders that were given the death penalty based on reports found online (Internet). I will use that information to state in this paper ( non-Internet) the concept of the death penalty and the relationship with juveniles and adults.
Many states incorporate the death penalty in their justice system for juveniles and adults alike. However, should the states give the same punishment to juveniles? Would it be fair to hold certain actions against a juvenile the same way they are held against an adult? Does the old idea of “An eye for an eye” really hold any weight in a fair trial? These are questions that I hope to answer in this paper. Keywords: Juvenile, death penalty, offender SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 3 Should juvenile offenders be tried and punished with the death penalty as adults?
The United States has different ways on how to handle it’s criminals. We live in a country that allows criminals be tried fairly and be judged by a jury of their peers. However, what if that criminal is a juvenile? What if that person that you have to decide their life is too young to comprehend what they have done? No one can ever imagine what went on in that person’s head while they committed a crime. So, those who are chosen to be members of the jury must be able to put their morals aside and come up with a reasonable solution to punish this criminal.
Of course the first thing that everyone must think with they think about punishing someone who killed someone is to do the same on to them. However, is that just? Can we really use the concept of “ an eye for an eye” to hold a child accountable? These are questions that go through people’s minds. In order to really understand this, I will provide you with the legal view given by the U. S. Supreme Court in 2005. (Read: Article) I will also provide you with information taken by the United Nations in 2000 concerning the Death Penalty in the United States. Source: UN,ABC News, 2000) The United States Supreme Court (2005) abolished capital punishment for juvenile offenders finding that it was unconstitutional to sentence anyone younger than 18 to death for a crime they committed. They stated that the death penalty for minors is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Along with their ruling, they said that teenagers are medically and socially too immature to be held accountable for their criminal actions. The higher justices ruled on this issue 5 to 4.
SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 4 The supreme court based their ruling on the case of Roper v. Simmons ( Case No. 03-633) . The suspect in this case (Christopher Simmons) was 17 at the time he kidnapped and killed a woman (Roper). Simmons along with 72 others from 12 states were spared from facing death. Due to this ruling given by the higher court, juveniles are now only sentenced to life or other prison terms instead of facing capital punishment.
According to an investigation conducted by the United Nations only 5 years earlier (2000), the United States was the only country that strongly opposed the execution of minors as a form of punishment yet still did it. At that time, the only other countries that executed children under 18 are Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. These are primarily Muslim countries in which the concept of “ an eye for and eye” is strongly upheld. The United States since 1985 up until 2000 when this report came out, had xecuted more juvenile offenders than all the other countries combined. Only 20 years earlier, most of Americans were against capital punishment by 50 percent. Today, over 71 percent of Americans are in favor of the death penalty. That is a huge change over a 20 year period. SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 5 Discussion In my opinion, I think the death penalty should be ratified in order to include juveniles of certain age. I mean, morally I disagree on capital punishment altogether.
As a Christian, I find it unjust to kill someone for killing another. I see it as committing the same crime on to them, only in our eyes we find it to be fair. However, looking at it from a legal standpoint, I support capital punishment because I provides closure to the victim’s family and will prevent that criminal from being released into society only to be re-instituted for the same crime. Studies have shown that juveniles from the age of 16 and up are able to comprehend things the way most average adults can. That is because of the society has changed over the course of time.
Since 2001, society the United States has been more alert and mentally hostile in a way because of the 9/11 attacks, two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic downturn. This in turn has changed households, turning them more hostile in the eyes of children. Yes, we can say that most young adults simply need guidance because they were raised in a broken home. But what about those who were raised the same but didn’t resort to violence or crime? What can the court system tell the families of those who were killed by juveniles? This is a very touchy topic both politically and morally.
However, I strongly believe that anyone that is mature enough to commit such crimes, is mature enough to be held accountable for their actions. Just because you are 17 and legally aren’t considered an adult, doesn’t mean one doesn’t see them as one. SHOULD JUVENILE OFFENDERS BE TRIED AND PUNISHED 6 References United Nations, U. S. News & World Report, ABC News. (2000) Death Penalty Information Center, Amnesty International. www. abcnews. com Lane, C. (2005) 5-4 Supreme Court Abolishes Juvenile Executions Page A01, Washington Post .