Should the Death Penalty Apply to Juvenile Criminals?

Good Essays
Day after day in this country there is a debate going

on about the death penalty and whether we as people have the

right to decide the fate of another persons life. When we

examine this issue we usually consider those we are arguing

about to be older men and women who are more than likely

hardened criminals with rap sheets longer than the height we

stand (Farley & Willwerth, 1998). They have made a career of

crime, committing it rather than studying it, and somewhere

along the line a jury of their peers decided enough was

enough. They were handed down the most severe and most

final punishment of them all, death. Behind all of the

controversy that this issue raises lies a different group of

people that are not so often brought into the lime light,

juveniles. This proposes a problem entangled with another;

if we do decide to carry out death sentences, what is the

minimum age limit? Can we electrocute, lethally inject, or

gas any one who commits a crime that is considered capital?

In this paper the issue of capital punishment for

juveniles will be discussed, basically laying out a

comprehensive look at the matter. First we will briefly

look at the history of both juvenile justice and the history

of the death penalty in regards to juveniles. Secondly we

will take a short look at the two major court cases that

dealt with this issue in the United States. Next this paper

will present the factual statistics of the death penalty for

juveniles and also take a look at our country's stance on

the issue in the international arena. We will then spend a

short time looking at some views on the juvenile death

penalty, reasons for the death penalty itself, and the

arguments for and against the death pe...

... middle of paper ...

Gonnerman, J. (2000, January 5). Kids on the row. The

Village Voice [Online]. Available: http://www.villagevoice


Promises broken: Children in conflict with the law. (1999,

December). Available:


Ricotta, D. (1988). Eighth amendment-the death penalty for

juveniles: A state's right or a child's injustice. Journal

of Criminal Law & Criminology, 79, 921-951.

Streib, V. (2000, June). The death penalty today: Death

sentences and executions for juvenile crimes January 1,

1973-June 30, 2000. Available:


Whitman, L. (2000, June 20). Bush should halt Texas

execution: Human Rights Watch letter to the Texas board


pardons and paroles. Available:

Get Access