Capital punishment for juvenile offenders started in English common law. In fourteenth century England the minimum age of criminal accountability was age seven. Any child below that age was set free because children at such a young age “knoweth not of good and evil”. From this period through the eighteenth century there was an assumption – one that was taken to be true unless someone comes forward to prove otherwise – made by the court that a child offender above the age of seven but below the age of fourteen could not form the criminal intent required for a death sentence. There was no rebuttable presumption for offenders over fourteen.
The first execution of a minor occurred in 1642. A sixteen year old boy was executed in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts. Between the years 1642 and 1973, 344 minors were executed in the U.S. Almost half of them were between ages ten and fifteen at the time of their crimes. In the year 1972 twenty-two juveniles were executed. From 1642 to 2005, about 366 juveniles were executed out of almost 20,000 confirmed executions in U.S. history.
America has a long history o...
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..."only for the worst of the worst." (Roh)
Most family or friends of the victims of juveniles want a form of justice for their loved one that was taken away from them; similar to the saying “an eye for an eye”.
If a teenager of, say, seventeen were to go out on a walk one day and randomly murder a family of five human beings, that teenager would not be punished as severely as an “adult” of eighteen would be even though there is only a year difference. What kind of development could occur within one year that would allow the oldest to know the difference between right and wrong and the youngest not to? American’s pride themselves in their “faithful” practice of the constitution but, for this particular issue, set aside the centuries-old American practice of letting a twelve person jury decide on whether or not a juvenile should be put on death row for a particular case.
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- According to the authors of And Justice for Some, between the years 1985 and 1997, the number of juveniles placed in state prison more than doubled (Poe-Yamagata & Jones, 2000). While they are separated from the adult population if they were tried in the juvenile courts, when a juvenile is waived to the adult court, they are incarcerated with adult inmates in jails and prisons. In the past years, the courts are moving away from case-specific decisions on waiving juveniles to the criminal courts and are now considering the waiver on offense seriousness.... [tags: Crime, Capital punishment, Roper v. Simmons]
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