Monday, July 4, 2011

Juvenial Death Penalty

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Juvenile Death Penalty

The juvenile death penalty is one of the most controversial issues of the twentieth century. The death penalty is always used as the last resort punishment. People who deserve to be on death row are people who have committed such horrible acts that there is no other punishment that fits their crime. The actual definition of capital punishment is “the lawful infliction of death as a punishment”(West’s 16). The death penalty has existed in the United States since 1608. Currently only thirty-eight states allow capital punishment. It is known to be an argumentative topic. Everyone has his or her own opinion on who deserves to receive capital punishment, or whether or not it should actually exist. Capital punishment in the United States used to be a lot more acceptable than it is today(Strater 6).

“There are only six countries in the world that are known to have executed juvenile offenders in the ‘nineties Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nigeria, Yemen�and the United States”(Farley ). It is an extremely popular issue at this point in time due to all the current juvenile murderers. Since the spring of ninety-five, six juveniles have been executed this decade in the United States. This is more than any other country in the world. Some would say that these statistics are embarrassing for the United States as a whole. Seventy-five percent of the juvenile’s executed are non-Caucasian. Since the start of the death penalty, a good portion of the children put to death have been black males. Most of the juvenile executions have taken place in the South. The youngest person ever to be executed in this country was a ten year old in 1885, for taking part in a robbery and a murder(Strater 6).

The justification for the juvenile death penalty is frequently tracked back to Blackstone’s commentaries on the laws of England. Sixteen states in the U.S. have a minimal age requirement for the death penalty under the age of eighteen. Some of these states include Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming. All but one of these states does not go under the age of fourteen(Strater 6). “The minimum age of statute in Mississippi is thirteen, but the Mississippi Attorney General’s office indicates the effective age is sixteen based on the interpretation of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions” (Strater 6). Nine states do not have an age requirement for carrying out capital punishment.

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The death penalty is too cruel a punishment for people under the age of eighteen. Anyone under this age has not experienced life as an adult yet. Many of their decisions are made for them. Some of the mistakes they make may be done without thinking it through thoroughly, or the knowledge of life to realize the ramifications of their actions. Youths are heavily influenced by peer pressure and how they are raised. Juveniles may partake in certain uncivilized acts for survival as well. Parenting can play a tremendous role in how juveniles make poor decisions. If their parents are not around while growing up, or make poor decisions themselves, how are their children going to know the correct ways to go about their own lives. Parents need to teach their children to have strong morals. One should know that killing another human being is not correct, but if they are never taught to make good decisions, then murder can just be considered another poor decision that they have made. On the other side of this controversy, “some argue that children mature enough to murder are mature enough to be punished for it”(Farley ). Often times, people base this decision on their own family lives. Many times, the juveniles who commit such heinous crimes to be put on death row have not grown up in the same family environments as the people arguing towards executing them.

“At a time when school shootings have led the United States into a wrenching political debate about youth violence, this is a quandary worth pondering” (The Wall Street Journal A8). Congress is in a jam, trying to figure out what causes youth crime. The people who make laws are working hard to make specific laws that prevent juveniles from seeing violent movies or video games (The Wall Street Journal A8). They feel that such movies or games can cause violent behavior. Already a minimum age requirement is set for certain movies, but not all of them. If states do make new laws dealing with children seeing or playing movies or video games, they must deal with the punishment that should occur after they see or play the game or movie.

Some movies and video games can show some kids more about real life. Many people think that movies or different types of games can have a negative influence upon a kid. Ignoring an issue or telling children not to see certain movies or play some video games is not going to prevent anyone from experiencing the real world. It exists everywhere. If they did not learn from a movie or game, they would just learn from friends, television, and, so on and so forth. Most kids, who go and see a violent movie for the first time, will not understand exactly what is going on. After the movie, the child will probably go home and ask certain questions to his or her parents. At this point in time, the parents can thoroughly explain what went on in the movie and go into an educational conversation about certain issues in which the child may be confused about. A video game is just a form of entertainment. Some video games are obviously more violent than others. Violent video games do not turn a juvenile into a murderer.

Capital punishment has been going on this country for a very long time. Most other countries have done away with it. “The U.N. convention (Article7(a)) provides that neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age”(Streib 6). The United States is basically the only country in the world that has not changed this agreement. This country wants to be able to keep the death penalty for juvenile offenders (Streib 6).

The juvenile death penalty has been one of the most controversial issues of the twentieth century, being used as the last resort punishment for the most heinous of crimes, although it should not be the answer to juvenile crimes. Anyone under the age of eighteen needs to mature and start making some of their own decisions. Execution is not the right decision for a crime committed by a juvenile.

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