No Death Penalty For Minors


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The Death Penalty is the execution of criminals for committing crimes regarded so bad that this is the only acceptable punishment. It establishes order in society by putting the fear of death in to would be killers. Although this works for the most part, one has to wonder if a child who commits murder thinks about the fact that it can lead to a death sentence.

Studies by the Harvard Medical School, the National Institute of Mental Health and the UCLA’s Department of Neuroscience found that the frontal and pre-frontal lobes of the brain, which regulate impulse control and judgment, are not fully developed in adolescents. Development is not completed until somewhere between 18 and 22 years of age. In addition to this information, South Dakota is currently one of 16 states in the country that allows this practice.

Based on the previous information, it is very clear that children especially those under 14 years of age, cannot and do not function as an adult. They have a greater tendency to act on impulse, making unsound judgments or reasoning, and are less aware of the consequences of their actions. In America, teenagers under the age of 18 cannot drink, vote, or sit on a jury, yet they can be sentenced to death if convicted of a crime. What these children need is rehabilitation, guidance and most importantly given a second change to mend what they did as impulsive children.

On the other hand, family victims often call for the death penalty because their sibling/child had no right to die in the hands of a murderer. Since this person took their life, the family should have the right to lawfully take the murder’s life. Life in prison is not always enough for them because they have an opportunity to leave on parole, and the thought of these murderous monsters being released into society again horrifies these families, thus they call for execution.

However, many states recognize that minors, especially children, are at a confusing impressionable, chaotic age of transition. If a teen commits a murder, that youth should be given the opportunity to set his or her life straight. Juveniles still have a lot of growing up to do. It may mean many years in prison and loss of their freedom, but it would also mean that there is at least a chance for a young life to reform.

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In conclusion, children under the age of 14 should not get the death penalty. Although its purpose is to instill fear in those would be murderers, children have to be treated differently than adults. With proper counseling and guidance, there is the chance that a young, still-forming life can be put on a better path. By sentencing children, we lessen this possibility and all hope.


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