Kids on Death Row

Kids on Death Row

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Kids on Death Row


Even though they are just kids, should they be tried as adults? The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the execution of children as young as sixteen is not cruel and unusual punishment. Out of thirty-eight states with the death penalty, thirteen have set the minimum age for death at eighteen; four states set the minimum at seventeen; nine set the minimum age at sixteen; twelve have no minimum age specified. In 1996, prosecutors in the state of Mississippi sought the death penalty for juveniles as young as thirteen years of age (1998, February 17). In 1999, a Texas legislator announced his plan to lower the state's minimum age to eleven. The youngest person killed since World War II in the United States was George Stinny, a fourteen year-old black boy. George Stinny was so small that when he was being executed his mask fell off.
Some argue that children mature enough to murder are mature enough to be punished for it. The death penalty is usually the last alternative for justice. Miriam Shehane, president of Victims of Crime and Leniency says, "I think when my kids were 15 or 16 they knew better than to kill someone." A victims'-rights movement based in Montgomery, Alabama says, "If someone does adult crime, they are acting as adults, and they have to take responsibility" (1998, May 3). Shehane contends that capital punishment is not only for those with long legacies of criminality but also for anyone, teens included, who commits singularly horrific crimes. Republican Governor Pete Wilson of California has suggested that fourteen year-olds should be eligible for the death penalty. The spokesman for Wilson, Sean Walsh, explained why Wilson was suggesting this. Walsh thought that gangs in California often use underage triggermen because the gangs know that, if the triggermen are caught, they will not be subject to capital punishment. Lowering the minimum age, he argues, would change that practice. In Texas, Pitts is proposing a five point plan where he wants kids as young as 10-years-old to be certified to stand trial as adults. He wants determinant sentencing eliminated when crimes are pre-mediated. The plan allows juveniles to be sentenced to life without parole (1998, May 3).
Currently, seventy-four juveniles offenders are waiting to be executed on America's death rows.

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Since 1990, only six countries have executed people for crimes they committed as kids: Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and the United States (1998, February 17). The United States has executed more children than the other five countries combined. On average, for every seven people executed, one person is found innocent. For example, Shareef Cousin was convicted on false testimony. The eyewitness was not able to identify the murderer, but the day of the trial she was "100 percent, absolutely sure" that Shareef was the murderer (1999, February 8). By coincidence, the testimony given by the eyewitness the day of the murder and three days later was lost. In those testimonies, she told the police that she could not see the murderers' face. Every year, four juveniles are wrongly accused. Kids should be given a second chance guilty or not guilty.
By placing these kids in boot camp, they could learn how to be more disciplined and also be a better person. This special camp would be for the capital crime kids. Three years would be the minimum time and the maximum is whatever the judge decides. After boot camp, job training will occur and a job will be assigned to them. They will not be able to leave until they are prepared mentally. Also, they will have an optional class that will help them spiritually. The class would be a Bible study group. This class session will take place once a week and there will always be someone that could help the kid in his or her time of need. Another way of solving this problem is not by lowering the capital punishment terms but by having well prepared counselors. These counselors will try to or maybe even stop the problem before it occurs.
Throughout all this information, the hardest thing to understand is the age factor. Why would somebody want to lower the minimum age for the death penalty to eleven? These are not just human beings, but they are also kids. Together, the Christians should defend these kids. Life might not of been easy for some of them. Therefore, a helping hand must be given. It doesn't matter if the person is black, white, Chinese, or even Hispanic; the killings must stop.








Work Cited
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Death Row Kids 17 February 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://www.igc.org./ncadp/drkids.html
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Fact Sheet 17 February 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://www.igc.org.//ncadp/fact3.html
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Justice for Shareef 8 February 1998. 10 Feb. 1999 http://www.shareef-cousin.com/
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Stat Sheet 19 May 1998. 1 Jan. 1998 http://www.igc.org./ncadp/stats.html
Louisiana. Say No To Kids Death 3 May 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://home.c2i.net/sissel.norway/juveniles.html
Megivern, James J. "The Death Penalty." Historical and Theological Survey New York 1997.











Bibliography:

Work Cited
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Death Row Kids 17 February 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://www.igc.org./ncadp/drkids.html
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Fact Sheet 17 February 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://www.igc.org.//ncadp/fact3.html
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Justice for Shareef 8 February 1998. 10 Feb. 1999 http://www.shareef-cousin.com/
Louisiana. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Stat Sheet 19 May 1998. 1 Jan. 1998 http://www.igc.org./ncadp/stats.html
Louisiana. Say No To Kids Death 3 May 1998. 1 Jan. 1999 http://home.c2i.net/sissel.norway/juveniles.html
Megivern, James J. "The Death Penalty." Historical and Theological Survey New York 1997.
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