Juveniles and The Death Penalty

Better Essays
Juveniles and The Death Penalty *No Works Cited One of the most controversial issues in the rights of juveniles today is addressed in the question, "Should the death penalty be applied to juveniles"? For nearly a century the juvenile courts have existed to shield the majority of juvenile offenders from the full weight of criminal law and to protect their entitled "special rights and immunities." In the case of kent vs. United states in 1996, Justice Fortas stated some of these "special rights" which include; Protection from publicity, confinement only to twenty-one years of age, no confinement with adults, and protection against the consequences of adult conviction such as the loss of civil rights, the use of adjudication against him in subsequent proceedings and disqualification of public employment (Kent vs. US 1966:1055). These " special rights and immunities " exist so that the justice courts can provide measures of guidance and rehabilitation for the child along with protection for society. However, there are some youths who are extremely dangerous and do not respond to attempts to reform themselves. The question is, should established mechanisms for transferring or waiving juvenile court jurisdiction in these exceptional cases take away these "special rights" and subject the youth to the full range of penalties for criminal behavior including, in some jurisdictions, execution (Thomson vs. State, 1986:784) ? Should These juveniles who perform the same malicious acts as some adult capital offenders be subject to the harshness of the criminal courts and the finality of the death penalty ? This paper will discuss a history of capital punishment for juveniles in the United States, methods of transferring juvenile cases to cri... ... middle of paper ... ...and its importance concerning the subject. The methods of transferring a juvenile from the juvenile court to the criminal courts are what make this controversial problem possible, once a juvenile is placed in the hands of the criminal courts, they are subject to all of the punishments that an adult offender would encounter, including capital punishments. The future of our court system and the punishment of juveniles for violent capital crimes depends on the reform of the death penalty with emphasis on consistency and justice. I feel that if the system continues on the path that it is on, the concept of capital punishment for all ages of offenders will not last. Further more, I don't believe that capital punishment will ever be effectively and consistently used in clarified capital offense cases, due to a number of inconsistencies in the United States Courts system.