Juveniles and the Death Penalty

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Juveniles and the Death Penalty It was a warm summer evening in a small town in the state of Missouri. John Freshman, a white male gang member fourteen years of age, drives down a street that he knows his rival gang members are usually standing along. John pulls his 9 MM. automatic pistol out from underneath his seat and points it at the group of rival gang members. John opens fire and unloads his weapon at anybody standing along the street. As John pulls away from the area, he almost gets into an accident with a parked vehicle and drops his weapon. When John regains control of the vehicle he shouts " blood killer coming down the road." When the ambulance and police arrive, they find five people dead two children and one grand mother in the house, and two gang members in the street dead. The police find the weapon and test for fingerprints. They come back to John Freshman AKA "Lone G." John has been in juvenile hall nine times and has been on probation or in custody for the past five years. John is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The previous statement is not real but it portrays the life of our country. This statement can be read and seen all over the country in newspapers and watched on the five o'clock news. Was John's sentencing appropriate? Should have John been sentenced to the death penalty? Is John old enough to be put to death? This paper will try to answer these questions. Terms Juvenile - A young Person, one below the legally established age of adulthood. A person under the age of eighteen when the crime was committed. Death Penalty- Capital punishment, sentenced to death. What age is too young for the death penalty? A better question is what age is it too young to die for the murder of another human person. In the United States, the Supreme Court ruled that juvenile under the age of sixteen should not be sentenced to death because they are too young. This was upheld in the case of Thompson V. Oklahoma (487 U.S. 815,1988). Since juveniles are beginning to get more violent in their acts, should the age be lowered? For instance, the previous scenario states that it was a fourteen year old doing the crime. What if it was a twelve year old? When does a juvenile have to pay fully for the crime he or she committed?

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