Death Penalty, Research Paper Example
Words: 564Research Paper
The little intelligence, education and inexperience of juveniles, as well as their influence by emotion and peer pressure, make the actions of minors less capable as compared to their adult counterparts. Minors who commit crimes often become disadvantaged during investigations and easily intimidated by authority figures and adults resulting in coerced confessions (Judy and Ann 1). Death penalty meant to give the toughest punishment to the worst offenders and in the case of juveniles; they are more responsive to rehabilitation and capital punishment becomes inappropriate.
Stanford v Kentucky
Kevin Stanford v the State of Kentucky 491 U. S 391 (1981) was a case that passed a death sentence on a juvenile. The defendant was roughly 17 years and 4 months old when he committed a murder in Kentucky and consequently convicted to the death sentence on charges of rape, murder, robbery, and receiving stolen property. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case. The issue before the court was whether the imposition of a death sentence on a juvenile constitutes cruelty and unusual penalty under the provisions of the Eighth Amendment on protection from unusual and cruel punishments. The juvenile court had resolved that its decision to try the individual as an adult the same would be in the paramount interest of both the community and the petitioner. His trial as an adult owed to his recurrent criminal behavior and the gravity of the current crime he faced. Upon appeal, the Supreme Court sustained the death sentence of the juvenile providing that the Eighth Amendment does not forbid death penalty for offenses committed at age below the majority age despite the statutory provisions of the state. In its decision, the Court provided in consideration as to whether the imposition of death penalties on offenders under the age of eighteen constitutes cruelty and unusual treatment, it is impartial to look at the evolving decency standards of the society.
In the context of the American society, there is no set national consent in regard to the imposition of the death penalty on 17 or 16 year old juveniles. Out of the 37 states that allow capital punishment, 12 exclude capital punishment for offenders below the age of 17 whereas 15 states forbid capital punishment for individuals who are 16 years old. Additionally, differences in national opinions, interest group opinions, and studies of professional associations, all show a lack of consistency regarding the suitability of death sentences on such reasonably young delinquents. Therefore, the decision as to whether 17 or 16 year olds be subjected to capital punishment made by the states locally and cannot be categorized as cruel and unusual punishment at the time. In its finding, the court found that the sentence was not in contradiction to the evolving decency standards that portray the development of a maturing society.
Juvenile offenders do not qualify to as the worst offenders since they are more vulnerable to pressure from peers, and are at the same time less mature. These juveniles cannot escape from the treacherous surroundings, and their personalities are still in formation (Katherine 1). It thus becomes difficult to conclude that they will always present a threat to the general population and that they will never change (Drucker 54). It is, therefore, inappropriate at any circumstances to try a juvenile as an adult. The trials of juveniles should remain so irrespective of the magnitude of the offense the minor is facing.
Drucker, Anthony. On the Trail of the Juvenile-Adult Offender: An Intensive Study of 100 County Jail Cases. New York: BiblioBazaar, 2010.
Judy, Rose and Ann, Andy. The Death Penalty For Juvenile Offenders. Tennessee Medicine. 2003. Web. 30th June 2012. http://www.tn.gov/mental/omd/omd_docs/juvenileDP.pdf
Katherine, Annette. Juvenile Justice: Why Juvenile Life Sentences Without Parole is a Mistake. Yale Undergraduate Law Review. 2012. Web. 30th June 2012. http://yulr.org/juvenile-justice-why-juvenile-life-without-parole-sentences-are-a-mistake/
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