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Thread: Death Penalty for Juveniles

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    Dear Prudence JustLoseIt may be famous one day JustLoseIt may be famous one day JustLoseIt's Avatar
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    Post Death Penalty for Juveniles

    Alright, here we go.

    What do you think about using the death penalty on juvenile's that know full well what they are doing when committing a crime?

    Do you favor the death penalty in any situation? Why?
    Give reasons please.

    If you don't favor it, why?

    Do you think it's right for us to decide the fate of a human?

    I will post up my opinion tomorrow. I had written a paper on this. I want to see responses first. :]

    Thanks Pyroo. :]

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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    If the crime warrants a hanging, despite age, then a hanging i demand.

    I'm all for the death penalty. Some people just commit crimes so diabolical they need to be killed. Look up Albert Fish and you'll see what i mean (plus, random fact, i live 10 minutes from Albert Fish's old house).

    The age though is where i draw some sort of line. When you know the difference between right and wrong and you commit a crime worth dying for, then yes, you should be killed. You knew what you were doing was wrong, so death to you.

    I'll set this age around 9.
    Why hello there!

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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    Personally, I'm against the death penalty. The Australian Federal Government abolished the death penalty in 1973, and I wholeheartedly agree with the abolishment. Death is simply an easy way out. Why should those criminals, who have committed such horrible crimes, be given the easy way out? They should be forced to live out the rest of the lives in solitude, and hopefully, regret. The life they could have had has gone down the drain, and any sane person would regret giving up their life. If they don't regret their actions, it simply means they're insane, and hence would be pardoned from their actions, and sent to a psychiatric institution (hopefully for the rest of their lives, chained to their bed).

    Concerning the death penalty on juveniles, I'm still against the death penalty itself, so my opinion still holds. However, it really depends on the age of the child and whether or not they understood the wrong in their actions. I would not condemn a four year old child to solitude for the rest of their life, for a crime they obviously did not understand was wrong.

    I also don't agree with the set age of criminal responsibility. All children develop at different rates, both physically and mentally, and so in accordance with many differing mental capacities, how can there be a set age of criminal responsibility? Each child should be individually examined to determine whether or not they understood the wrong in their actions. I do not believe that a child's age is very indicative of their mental capabilities, unless of course, they're toddlers.

    Bottomline: No one should have the right to death, as the UDHR makes clear.

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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    I'm for death penalties but not on young people. And any case that found someone guilty base on circumstantial evidence should not be killed either.

    Junveniles should be given a chance and can change when guided correctly. At this time the concept of "upbringing" does play a bigger role than their older counterparts. Make sure it's not a biological reason or environmental reason that he/she is breaking the law, and give the junvenile a shorter leash in terms of crimes he or she can commit before landing in jail for a serious amount of time.

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    Here! is my post. :] Enjoy

    Punishment in the criminal justice system is inevitable if convicted of a crime.

    Once convicted of a crime, a person is subjected to a penalty. A penalty is

    ‘the suffering in person or property which is annexed by law or judicial

    decision to the commission of a crime, offense or trespass, as a punishment”

    (Webster, 1828, 32). Punishment then may consist of a conviction which

    might also lead to a fine, probation, imprisonment or the death penalty

    (Kadish, Schulhofer, & Steiker, 2007, p 67).

    Generally speaking punishment falls into two types: retributive and utilitarian.

    Retributive concentrates on what has happen and seeks to punish for past

    behavior while utilitarian concentrates on preventing future situations from

    occurring by deterring, rehabilitating or incarceration (Kadish, Schulhofer, &

    Steiker, 2007).

    The concept of the death penalty has been around since the Fifth Century

    B.C. but was established as an actual law in the Eighteenth Century B.C. in

    the Code of King Hammaurabi of Babylon which held the death penalty for 25

    different crimes. Death penalty methods included: crucifixion, drowning,

    beating to death, burning alive, stoning and impalement (Death Penalty

    Information center [DPI], 2008).

    The first act of capital punishment in America was recorded on 1608 in

    Jamestown, the colony of Virginia. Although laws concerning the death

    penalty varied from colony to colony, crimes punishable by death included:

    stealing grapes, killing chickens, being a spy, striking one’s own mother,

    trading with Indians and denying the “true God” (DPI, 2008). Currently,

    crimes punishable by the death penalty vary from state but may include:

    murder, rape under 14, treason, aggravated kidnapping, air craft hijacking,

    and drug trafficking (DPI, 2008)

    In 1764, an Italian criminologist, Cesare Beccaria, wrote an essay challenging

    the death penalty:

    Did anyone ever give to others the right of taking away his life? Is it

    possible that, in the smallest portions of the liberty of each, sacrificed to the

    good of the public, can be contained the greatest of all good, life? If it were

    so, how shall it be reconciled to the maxim which tells us, that a man has no

    right to kill himself, which he certainly must have, if he could give it away to

    another? But the punishment of death is not authorised by any right; for I

    have demonstrated that no such right exists
    (Beccaria, 1764,

    Chapter 28).

    For the next 200 years, the death penalty laws were redefined,

    eliminated, reinstated and have been subject to much debate and

    controversy. Most recently, in 1972, the Supreme Court suspended the

    death penalty but is again reinstated in 1976. Beginning in 2000, individual

    states began placing strict standards for the death penalty and in March

    2005, the United States Supreme Court ruled the death penalty for persons

    under 18 to be cruel and unusual (DPI, 2008). The first recorded juvenile

    execution was in 1642 in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. A total of 365

    juveniles have been executed from 1642 through 1976. Between 1976 and

    2004, an additional 22 juveniles were executed for their crimes. One juvenile

    was 16; the others were 17 at the time of their crimes (DPI, 2008).

    The American public favors the death penalty by 72% for serious murders but

    about 69% oppose the death penalty for juvenile offenders (American Bar

    Association, 2004). In the last year, the United States Supreme Court has

    revisited their interest in juvenile death penalty as the public voices

    concerns regarding the heinous crimes committed by juveniles (DPI, 2008).

    More than half of the countries in the world now forbid the death penalty.

    The United States, along with other so-called human rights violators, as

    classified by the US State, Department (such as: Afghanistan, Bangladesh,

    Chad, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi

    Arabia, Sudan and Yemen), continues to use capital punishment. Of juvenile

    Offenders executed, the United States executed half of them; Yemen,

    Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran the other half (Amnesty International

    2002) (Holmes & Federman, 2003, p 2-3).

    Scientists have discovered the adolescent brain undergoes intense growth

    and change until their early twenties. “Jay Giedd, a researcher at the

    National Institute of Mental Health, explains that during adolescence the part

    of the brain that s helping organization, planning, and strategizing is not

    done being built yet . . . It’s sort of unfair to expect adolescents to have

    adult levels of organizational skills or decision making before their brain is

    finished being built” (American Bar Association, 2004, p 3).

    Juveniles share nearly all of the developmental characterisitcs of the

    mentally retarded that support their categorical ineligibility for the death

    penalty. Like the mentally retarded, juveniles have decreased abilities to

    regulate their actions, understand the correlation between their actions and

    the consequences of those actions, and to appreciate the impact of the

    resulting punishment for their actions. Moreover, recent scietific research

    supports the conclusion that the brains of juveniles are less developed than

    those of non-mentally retarded adults. Moreover, juveniles have fewer life

    experience to inform their decision making. Thus, like the mentally retarded,

    while juveniles may know the difference between right and wrong and may

    be competent to stand trial, they are less competent decision makers than

    non-mentally retarded adults because they have underdeveloped decision

    making capacities (Archer, Sarbin, Esters, Makins, & Abrams, July 19, 2004, p


    The American Bar Association has taken a strong stance regarding protecting

    the rights of the juvenile offender by preparing the Amicus Curiae for Roper

    v. Simmons. This states that juveniles have a reduced level of moral

    culpability for sense and reason and the fact they are generally more

    impulsive and less disciplined than adults. Like the mentally retarded,

    juveniles have decreased abilities to regulate their actions, understand the

    correlation between their actions and the consequences, and to appreciate

    the impact of the resulting punishment for their actions.

    Society generally recognizes that juvenile offenders are more capable of

    rehabilitation than adults and like the mentally retarded, risk the increased

    possibility of being wrongly convicted of capitol offenses, as they are more

    likely to exaggerate their roles in crimes.

    The Role of Deterrence in the Formulation of Criminal Code Rules states “if a

    criminal rule is to deter violators, three prerequisites must be satisfied: the

    potential offender must know of the rule; he must perceive the cost of the

    violation as greater than the perceived benefit; and he must be able and

    willing to bring such knowledge to bear on his conduct decision at the time of

    the offense” (Kadish, Schulhofer, & Steiker, 2007, p 93). The other hurdle in

    this situation is the offender must know the law. If one is old enough to be

    trained to drive a car or obtain a hunting license, they are old enough to be

    aware and understand the concept of murder, as this act is possible with

    each of these privileges. It is murder, not crimes of shoplifting, jay walking,

    or speeding that carries a potential death penalty sentence. It is basic

    respect and sanctity of human life we seek to preserve.

    The concept behind the Supreme Court ruling in 2005 is appropriate but I

    disagree with the strict age requirement. I believe the age could be 16 or

    younger in certain situations and should be left to the court’s discretion. As

    a whole, our society is not consistent with expectations of behavior and

    maturity in allowing juvenile privileges, for example: operating a motorboat at

    age 12, entering driver’s education at 14 years and 9 months and driving at

    age 16, obtain a hunting license at 16, allowed to drop out of school at 16,

    vote and serve in the military at 18, but legal drinking age is 21 in most

    states! Individuals mature at different levels, and their behavior and motive

    should be evaluated case by case.

    [[More down below!]] I had to split this up in two posts. Keep reading!]]


    The landmark case to overturn the juvenile death penalty decision was Roper v

    Simmons. Simmons was 17 when he broke into a Mrs. Crooks home. Once in the home,

    Simons realized she could identify him from a previous encounter. Mrs. Crooks was

    bound, gagged, and taken from her home to a remote location. While at the remote

    location, Simmons applied a towel with duck tape to her head, additional wires to her

    hands and feet and threw her from a local bridge. Simmons spoke of his plan “to kill

    someone” to others prior to committing this vile act. His original verdict was to be

    sentenced to death (Archer, Sarbin, Esters, Makins, & Abrams, July 19, 2004).

    Thompson v Oklahoma is another example of a purposefully, violent teenager.

    Thompson, age 17, opened fire at two individuals with an assault weapon on the street

    in the early evening. Per witnesses, he approached and shot one individual two

    additional times while the victim crawled away begging to live. Thompson was believed

    to be a gang member and involved in other murders.

    Ashley Jones was 14 when she and her 16-year-old boyfriend, shot, stabbed, and set

    on fire her grandparents and aunt. The grandfather died while the 3 others were

    critically wounded and required long hospitalizations to recover. Ashley also stabbed her

    10-year-old sister multiple times. This planned attack was provoked by the grandfather

    attempting to keep Ashley from spending time with the boyfriend (Liptak, 2007).

    The above cases do not, in my opinion, fit the impulsiveness, and lack of thought

    argued to the Supreme Court. Their actions were planned and quite purposeful. Their

    actions were significant enough to clearly identify the intent to murder their victims.

    There are a few cases that do fall into the lack of judgment category. For example, Lee

    Malvo was the infamous 17-year-old sniper and his behavior and intent was similar, but

    his situation was quite different. Others can easily influence youth and this should be

    evaluated in every case. His crimes were also heinous, but he was thought to be

    isolated and brainwashed by John Allen Mohammed to assist with carrying out

    Mohammed’s master plan (Szegedy-Maszak, 2003).

    Nathaniel Abraham, at age 13, was convicted as an adult of 2nd degree murder for

    shooting and killing an 18-year-old man when he was 11 years old. Nathaniel was

    shooting a rifle e had found at trees in a field 200 feet from a party store. One of the

    bullets hit and killed an 18-year-old man. A neighbor had witnessed Nathaniel shooting in

    a similar fashion a few days before the incident but did not have the opportunity to talk

    with him about it. Nathaniel was being raised by his grandmother and had little

    supervision (Randall, 1998). Lack of supervision played a large part of this tragedy but

    sadly Nathanial was pummeled by the media and was turned into a cold-blooded killer.

    The belief that there is no difference between a mentally challenged teenager and a

    normal teenager is ludicrous. Their reasoning and educationally ability are worlds apart. I

    suggest the parents of these individuals and society are unwilling to accept some

    responsibility as to their children’s behavior and would rather believe they do not know

    better. Perhaps the criminal justice system should consistently hold the parents

    responsible for the crimes committed by their children. If the case for maturity is true,

    the theory suggests youth do not mature until age 24. I do not believe there is a

    magical transformation at age 18. The individual’s behavior (overall and surrounding the

    crime), medical/psychiatric record, parental privileges, and criminal record should be

    evaluated when deciding the death penalty with age being an insignificant factor.

    Education for lawmakers, criminal justice system, and the public is crucial. As a society,

    we need to determine and be firm with what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

    Firm boundaries and expectations need to be understood and those falling outside these

    parameters need to be held accountable, no matter how innocent or naïve they may


    Punishing juveniles with the death penalty has a more emotional tie than for an

    individual we view as an adult. To accommodate the varied maturity levels,

    expectations can be divided into categories to assist with determining who is eligible

    and who should not be eligible for the death penalty. The emotional aspect of, “he is

    just a baby”, should be removed from this process and consequences are decided solely

    on behaviors and intent.

    The privileges and expectations of youth under 18 should be reevaluated. I also believe

    there should be more in depth evaluations prior to issuing driver and hunting licenses.

    These are privileges, not rights. Becoming 16, should not guarantee the ability to drive a

    car. I would challenge the psychiatric community to develop a test to help discover

    readiness and screen for personality or other disorders. If we, as a society, have

    granted certain privileges to a 16 year old then we view them a having more adult like

    maturity. We expect they will conduct themselves responsibility and not commit

    intentional vehicular murder or manslaughter. If youth are truly incapable of controlling

    their behavior and decision making skills than we need to revoke the driving privilege and

    reevaluate the privileges granted to youth through age 24.

    Punishing juveniles using the death penalty is very controversial and the Roper v

    Simmons decision is still under scrutiny. Although the American public favors the death

    penalty, it is opposed for juveniles. The psychiatric community has argued the juveniles

    are incapable of understanding and controlling the decision making process.

    After reviewing the literature, I disagree and believe juveniles have the ability to know

    right from wrong, and possess the ability to respect the value and sanctity of life. If a

    juvenile takes a life, their case should be evaluated according to the maturity level they

    possess. Though I do not agree with the death penalty, juveniles are just as susceptible

    as adults depending on their maturity, personality, and the case involved.

    Now I am finished.:]
    Last edited by LenMiyata; Dec 12, 2008 at 10:42 AM.

    Thanks Pyroo. :]

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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    Will it matters what they did if they killed somebody yes they should be put to death just like anybody else but if they robbed a bank or something then they should just get alot of jail time i think the only time they should get in trouble as a kid is when they do a kid crime if its a grown up crime they should be tryed as an grown up.

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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    Assuming that the Juvenil have killed another person, than I would agree with the death penailty, but if it was out of self defense or somehow accidental where the Juvenil was involved then probably jail for life or somthing. But if it was other crimes than murder, simple jail
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    Re: Death Penalty for Juveniles

    It just seems wrong to kill kids at a young age. I mean if there only like 5 years old. Don't kill them. There way too young. If a 10 or 11 started to kill like 10 people, then set them to die for what they done. I'm against of people who give death penalty's at a young age.

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