Capital punishment has always been a controversial topic that could be debated until the end of time. However, a new element of the issue has taken the center stage of the legal world that has diverted focus to the Supreme Court. The factor whether it is appropriate for the death penalty to be imposed on juvenile offenders is now debated in courtrooms all over the nation.
Although the American public is generally in favor of the death penalty, surveys indicate that a substantial majority oppose capital punishment for minors.Only 24 of the 50 states now allow the execution of juveniles, and nationwide there are 28 juvenile killers on death row (SpeakOut. com). The reasoning behind both arguments (for and against) is based upon solid facts and ideas that leave you deliberating the pros and cons of capital punishment. Obviously, there is no clear winner in this debate as well as it is still being weighed in the minds of not only the public but the courts as well.Usually the punishments for juvenile offenders are less severe in a hope that they can be rehabilitated and returned as a productive part of society.
However, in a time where juvenile offenses are becoming more violent, more active in gangs, with guns and where drugs are more prevalent: the courts are becoming less tolerant of youth offenders. The US Supreme Court has upheld the use of the death penalty for youths over sixteen. There are many arguments that support the use of the death penalty for juveniles.
For one, the death penalty is the correct punishment for the most vicious crimes, whether adults or teenagers commit them. Some things are inexcusable that do not deserve any other punishment than death. In addition, there is simply no other effective deterrent for the repeated violent crime, whereas the person who is sentenced to death will not be able to commit murder again. When someone does not learn the first time, a harsher punishment must be implemented, and sometimes death is that next step.
Finally, it is the responsibility of individual states not the Supreme Court to decide what punishments are acceptable for juveniles – if the citizens of a state want the death penalty for juveniles found guilty of certain adult crimes, their state legislators should be able to make that law. In a society where crime and violence are a part of everyday life, it is customary that citizens would want justice even in the form of revenge. Others, however, argue that the death penalty is an inappropriate punishment for minors.Young people are not yet hardened criminals; they can still be rehabilitated. Some of the more forceful arguments against the death penalty include the death penalty being morally wrong.
A society that believes it must kill people in order to solve its problems is an uncivilized society. If we were truly a civil society, we would work our hardest to overcome the problems that we face rather than using the quick-fix method of simply killing someone. Another point is that the threat of death does not deter violent crime. Evidence suggests that it is no more effective than long prison terms.
In addition, the death penalty is not applied fairly; young people cannot be expected to have the mature judgment of an adult. That is especially true considering that many juveniles convicted of capital crimes have serious psychological problems and in some cases actual brain damage. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to sentence a juvenile criminal to death when he or she may not understand the reasoning behind the crime or the punishment or be able to control their actions. There have been 350 juveniles executed since 1642; that’s only 2% of the total 18,000 executions carried out since Colonial times.In modern day, only 22 of the 37 states allow the death penalty to be imposed on juveniles under the age of 18 (SpeakOut. com). Several dozen young people – most of them male, and most of them black – inhabit death row in state penitentiaries, awaiting execution for crimes committed when they were minors.
A decade ago, the American Bar Association declared its opposition to the imposition of capital punishment upon any person under the age 18, and there were legislative moves to outlaw the execution of juveniles.This too, has changed. Today, some judges and legislators are eager to permit children to be put to death. Personally, I feel that the death penalty is a hard decision that faces not only our government but also our society. While as a society we cry out for justice when one of us has something wrong done to us, I am not sure if revenge by death is an acceptable solution. We as a county make it illegal to kill someone but yet we reserve the right to impose death if we feel the crime is vicious?I feel the death penalty is morally wrong in any circumstances.
I do not think that it deters crime or instills fear in the criminal. I think that juveniles can be responsible for their actions and crime with out having to give their life. I believe that juveniles can be rehabilitated and that society should not give up so easily. The chance to redeem themselves and to turn around their life should be given, and with the right support, I believe that they can learn from the experience and move on to be productive part of society.