Capital Punishment and Juveniles- revised

Essay by GayassHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2003

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Our country is one of the four countries since 2000 to execute adolescents. In the past five years, the United States has executed 13 juvenile offenders, three in the year 2002 alone. Eight of these executions took place in the state of Texas. The rest of the world combined carried out five such executions. Scott Hain was executed in Oklahoma on April 13 of this year, making the US the first country to execute a juvenile offender in 2003 (Death Penalty Info). Moreover, debate about the use of the death penalty for juveniles has grown more intense because of the demand for harsher punishment for serious and violent juvenile offenders and numerous contentions to the death penalty's legality. Juvenile courts have recognized that there are developmental differences between adults and juveniles and advocated appropriate rehabilitative systems. Still, with the passage of revised death penalty statutes and the increase in violent crimes, the juvenile justice system has seen a shift toward stronger policies and punishments.

Supporters see the use of the death penalty as a deterrent against similar crimes or the most appropriate method for punishing certain severe crimes. Opponents, however, believe that there is no deterrent factor, it is inherently cruel, and children should not receive this punishment. Are children as mature as adults? Adolescents are impulsive and lack experiences that give their adult counterparts superior judgment skills. Does trying a child as an adult constitute them as equal? They cannot and should not be held to same level of accountability as adults. Juveniles should not receive capital punishment when adolescents are still developing their cognitive skills, continuing progress in maturity, and better alternatives are available.

Of course, those who advocate the death penalty for juveniles believe executions are the appropriate punishment for certain criminals committing specific crimes such as...