Juveniles: Too Young To Die? By Aaron DechantEnglish Comp. I AMr. Keller In 1643 a sixteen year old boy was put to death for sodomizing a cow. Three hundred and fifty years later, sixteen states have legitimized the execution of juveniles.
Four of those twelve states have lowered the legal age of execution to twelve. For whatever reasons the death penalty has been supported by the public since this country’s existence. In this day and age of increasing violence, both juvenile and adult, it is time to re-examine the use of the death penalty as the ultimate solution to crime. The social repercussions of enforcing the state executions of juveniles far outweigh any of the benefits that may be gained. The cry for the death penalty is most loudly heard when referring to it as use of a deterrent. According to Allen Kale ‘it is estimated that about 76%of the American public support the use of the death penalty as a deterrent, however that support drops to less than 9% when referring specifically to juveniles.’ (Kale 1) The mindset of the American public seems to be drastically different when dealing juveniles.
And yet, with only 9% of the public supporting the policy, it remains in effect. Another strong outcry for the death penalty comes from those wanting restitution for the death of a loved one. It is the thought that a life is the ultimate price to pay which fuels this argument. The delineation between adults and juveniles is much less clear on this point.
Against Capital Punishment Against Against Capital Punishment Essay, Research Paper Against Capital Punishment At 8: 00 p. m. it was nearing the end of John Evans last day on death row. He had spent most of the day with his minister and family, praying and talking of what was to come. At 8: 20 he was walked from his cell down to the long hall to the execution room and strapped in the electric ...
Age doesn’t seem to make much of difference when dealing with restitution. Putting an individual to death seems to put the minds of certain individuals at ease. This argument is what makes that 9% seem to be the vast majority. The distinction between juveniles and adults is a very important one.
It is often a deciding factor when one is choosing to support the death penalty or not. Although the difference often consists of just a few short years, it is those years which make all the difference. Often its deterrent effect and costs are greatly affected by age and maturity. In fact, most theories and reasons for supporting the death penalty are flawed when applying them to juveniles. The debate over whether or not the death penalty is an effective deterrent is likely to continue as long as it is in place.
However, its deterrent effect towards juveniles is more obvious. There are several reasons why the death penalty does not deter children. The death penalty has a very unique effect on juveniles. It has now become an ineffective means of deterring crime while in some cases actually acting as an incentive for crime. The first reason the death penalty is an ineffective tool for law enforcement has to do with the hypocrisy surrounding the policy.
Because the state is actively taking part in killing, the death penalty is seen as hypocritical by juveniles. It is of course, hard to believe that juveniles not murder when they regularly see it being done by the government with the apparent approval of society. This was supported when Victor Strieb stated that ” Now they see government officials struggling with a problem of their own, a person whose behavior is unacceptable to them. How do government officials solve their problem? They kill or execute the person who is causing the problem. Is it wrong to kill someone to solve a problem? … It is akin to a lecture to children about the evils of smoking being delivered by a lecturer who is puffing on a cigarette.’ (Strieb 61) The next deals with the lack of maturity that most juveniles show.
"Kids on Death Row" The Juvenile Justice System consists of a more or less integrated network of agencies, institutions, organizations, and personnel that process juvenile offenders. This network is made up of how enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and courts; corrections, probation, and parole services; and public and private community-based treatment programs that provide youth with diverse ...
Every juvenile is dealing with enormous amounts of stress everyday. It is these pressures that affect the deterrent effect of the juvenile death penalty. Each juvenile deals with this stress in a different way, however, because of this stress, many adolescents act impulsively at times. Henry Heft explains that ” Peer pressure and family environment subject adolescents to enormous psychological and emotional stress. Adolescents respond to stressful situations by acting impulsively and without the mature adults. These characteristics are shared by all adolescents…
Thus, the possibility of capitol punishment is meaningless to juveniles and effect.’ (Heft 30) Finally it can be seen that not only does the death penalty hold no deterrent for juveniles but in some cases it act as an incentive for crime. This can happen for two separate reasons. The first deals with the peer pressure mentioned above. Because death is seen as ‘the ultimate stake’ the committing of crime that would warrant the death penalty could put a juvenile in a position to gain great respect from his peers. The second deals with the hypocrisy, also mentioned above.
With the state legitimizing killing as it does, some minors are compelled and encouraged to commit crime. It is as though they feel no responsibility to abide by the laws the government sets down when that government doesn’t follow them itself. The problems surrounding the death penalty go far beyond the actual juveniles (un) affected by it. Through the debate over it’s justification as well as the actual carrying out of an execution all of society is affected. These effects range from the millions being spent on the appeals process to the racist way it is carried out. Whatever the effect may be, it is not something that can be swept under the rug.
These are issues which are present in everyone’s life. Proponents of the death penalty like it because it saves billions compared to life in prison. That would be true if one were comparing the cost of electricity for the electric chair, or the price of rope for a hanging. Unfortunately these are not the only costs involved with putting a person to death. There are a countless number of appeals granted in every capital case. All of these cases require prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other court fees; all of which costs money.
... this reason having a real threat, which the death penalty is, for the crimes committed for juveniles is a beneficial thing. It is also ... society suffers. People should always remember that the death penalty is used only in extreme cases, where other options cannot be applied.Besides, the ... but a measure to control overcrowding in prisons, to save cost in lodging the hardcore criminals. Is not this the ...
The majority of this money ends up falling onto the taxpayers, seeing as most juveniles in capital cases lack the needed funds. The bottom line is that the average death row case costs a significant amount more then life imprisonment would. In fact Carl Horwitz explains that ‘In comparison to life imprisonment capitol cases cost about two million dollars more.’ (Horwitz 4) These costs come about largely in part because of the extensive appeals process that is involved in every capital case.’ Possibly the worst result of having the death penalty is its tendency to block other programs. This happens for two distinct reasons.
The first is because the death penalty is seen by many as an ‘end all’s o lution. With the death penalty in place it seems as though many feel that nothing else is needed. However there seems to also be some structural barriers that the death penalty puts into place. In areas where the juvenile death penalty is in place there area lower number of programs such as community policing or midnight basketball. Bright tells us that ” The policies resulting from this approach are costing our society a tremendous price in money, in the corruption of the judiciary, and in diverting millions of dollars from education, drug programs, community policing, and other programs that would actually help to prevent crime.’ (Bright 6) The next way the juvenile death penalty adversely affects society has to do with an age old dilemma; racism.
Time and time again it is argued that capitol cases are the modern equivalent to something along the line of the Ku Klux Klan. There are several informal statistics which lead people to believe that the death penalty is racist. These statistics include the higher number of capital cases found in the South. However there are more significant arguments to be made.
Racism can be found both in charging, sentencing, and imposition of the death penalty. Steve Radic tells us that’ Presently, about half the people on death row are from represent only about twenty percent of the country’s population. About forty percent of those who have been executed since the death penalty was allowed to resume in 1976 have been African-Americans, even though they constitute only twelve percent of the population.’ (Radic 4) We are living in a time of increased crime and violence. With teenagers growing up as murders there is obviously something not working. James Fox believes that ” given the worsening conditions in which children are raised, given the breakdown of all our institutions as well as of our cultural norms, given our wholesale disinvestment in youth, we will likely have many more then 5, 000 teen killers per year…
The news clipping is mainly about the dilemma doctors face. They are trained to save people. They did not choose their profession to punish law-violating citizens. Specifically, this topic has been given hype by Dr. Marc Stern who quit on his job of being the head doctor in the state of Washington’s prison whose responsibilities included maintaining the lethal injection table in order for the next ...
Our nation faces a future bloodbath that will make 1996 look like the good old days.’ (Fox 71) When it comes down to it, it is time to start working on crime before it happens rather then after. One way to start this process it to eliminate one of the most costly, racist, and ineffective policy ever enacted in this country. Clearly there are issues surrounding the death penalty which need to be addressed. If it is to continue to be used it must be re-examined. There are several factors which need to be taken into consideration; not simply the sleep that families can get after an execution.
Whether it’s the costs, its use as a deterrent, the death penalty continues to fail its intended purpose. This is not something to be ignored, and it is not something that ‘they’ have to deal with. The impacts of the death penalty affect us all. If nothing else these juveniles are simply too young. Works Cited Bright, Steven. Young Blood.
New York: Hampton and Row, 1993 Fox, James. ‘Innocent Killers. Christian Science Monitor 12 Feb. 1996: 71-72 Heft, Henry. ‘Deterring Juveniles.’ A. B.
A. Journal June 1989: 30 Horwitz, Carl. ‘Effective Means of Deterring Criminals.’ Crime and Criminals May 1995: 1 Kale, Allen. ‘How does the public feel?’ Time Aug. 1995: 35 Radic Steve. ‘Searching For Answers.’ Criminal Justice Ethics July 1996: 5 Strieb, Victor.
Imposing the Death Penalty on Children. California: Sage, 1987.
... that absolutely ludicrous.Deep down inside many criminals you can bet are indeed thinking about the death penalty, especially if you live in ... death penalty saves lives, by executing murderers you prevent them from murdering again. The fear of execution will also keep criminals ... who admits to doing anything bad enough for the death penalty should be executed immediately. Here's a recent case that ...