Running head: Supreme Court Rules on Juvenile<br />Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Executions are Unconstitutional<br />Patricia Pryor <br />Kaplan University <br />CJ 230 <br />Abstract<br />The fact that in 2005 the Supreme Court overturned previous decisions on juvenile death penalty rulings shows that over the years the United States has changed their point of views. In this paper it will go into detail about why a juvenile metal capacity is different of that from an adult and why the ruling made by Roper v. Simmons was just and fair. <br />Supreme Court Rules Juvenile Executions are Unconstitutional<br />This paper will discuss the ethical implications of imposing death penalty on juvenile offenders, it will explain how over the years society has changed and so has the belief that is ok to execute juvenile offenders. The case Roper v. Simmons was just one of many cases that lead to the belief that execution of anyone under the age of eighteen is considered cruel and unusual punishment. Back in 1988 the case Thompson v. Oklahoma stopped the execution of offenders under sixteen. In 2002 Atkins v. Virginia held that executing mentally retarded was considered cruel and unusual punishment. These cases led to Roper v Simmons appealing on the grounds that “a national consensus has developed against the execution of juvenile offenders.” <br />On March first the Supreme Court ruled that the execution of juvenile offenders is violating the Eighth Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling over turned seventy death sentences imposed on juvenile offenders. It also showed it no longer agreed with its previous ruling in 1989, where it upheld the execution of juveniles the ages of sixteen and seventeen. The Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that outlawing the death penalty for juveniles was a natural conclusion in light of the court’s 6-3 decision in Atkins v. Virginia. The Supreme Court noted the evidence showed that juveniles were “categorically less culpable than the average criminal.” "
When a juvenile commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties,"
the majority stated, "
but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity."
The court made these decisions based on the fact that most states had already banned the execution of juvenile offenders and those that had not already done so had a very limited amount of juveniles on death row. The trend of abolishing the death penalty among juveniles is not just throughout the United States but a growing trend internationally. Also the Supreme Court noted that, "
The Company we have kept in recent years —Saudi Arabia, China, Congo, Iran and Pakistan, all countries that have executed juvenile offenders since 1990—is not savory, to say the least. With today's ruling, we affirm that we can do better."
<br />The decisions made that day by the court did not change the fact that juveniles are still held accountable for their actions; it just spares them from being put to death. Most of those that were on death row during this ruling were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. As stated below in better detail the court’s ruling confirms that the mental ability of a teenager is different than that of an adult and are less culpable and should not be sentence to death. Of course a major decision like this was affirmed by civil rights groups, religious denominations, child advocacy groups, legal organizations and medical associations Many of those organizations believed that the Supreme Court had confirmed that standards of decency in this country has evolved. <br />The National Legal Aid and Defender Association agreed with the Supreme Court with the decision in Roper v. Simmons that had a 5-4 majority. The NLADA believed that the constitution made it illegal and impossible to give anyone under the age of eighteen a death sentence. NLADA believed that, “retribution nor deterrence provide adequate justification for imposing the death penalty on juvenile offenders.” The court agreed and found that the differences between juvenile and adult offenders were different. Intellectually and emotionally a teenager differs from that of an adult and they must be judged and treated differently. Over the years there have been many studies conducted to confirm this, showing that an adolescent’s brain differs. The brain of a seventeen year old tend to be less mature, impulsive, and less capable of controlling their conduct and thinking in terms of long-range consequences. These facts alone show why it is ethically wrong to impose the death penalty among juveniles. During 1990-2001 there were a total of 629 executions out of those 629 executions only two percent were juvenile offenders. Of those two percent of juvenile offenders eight out of the fifteen executions occurred in Texas and 3 others occurred in Virginia. <br />While society has grown and changed over time and the moral beliefs of society changes so do the views of the public and the idea of executing a minor child now seems as cruel and unusual punishment. It is also important to understand that with modern technology we are able to study and focus on brain development. Particularly the human brain in a male is shown to evolve later in life and may not be fully developed until the early twenties Also the mental ability to control impulses usually develops last. When comparing the brain of adult to an adolescent brain it has been shown to show a connection to teen behavior and brain development. Structural MRI has revealed that the brain changes as one matures, that different parts change at different rates and that there is a dramatic difference between ages twelve to sixteen and twenty two and thirty. So when a teenager is rebelling against a parent, acting out, it is now proven that they are not able to control their emotions, use correct judgment, and control impulsiveness. Which was something that most parents of teenager already know, a teenager does not yet use all its brain power. Although this does not excuse them from murder they still know right from wrong but lack a full adult level function of their brains. They make horrible decisions, act on impulse, and do not think clearly about consequences. <br />When considering if the death penalty is considered cruel and unusual punishment, another question would then be would life in prison also is considered cruel and unusual the same for a juvenile that was mentally aware of his or her actions. This debate will continue and the rulings will change as long as society continues to grow and change its ideas about the youth in America. So the statement rings true when it stated, “It can be argued that this is one of the great examples of the Supreme Court allowing societal interests to influence and shape its decision making.” <br />References<br />http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/juvdp/ASAPStatement.pdf, Retrieved November 30, 2009<br />http://www.demaction.org/dia/organizations/ncadp/pressRelease.jsp?press_release_KEY=48, Retrieved November 30, 2009<br />http://www.civilrights.org/monitor/winter2005/art10p1.html, Retrieved November 30, 2009<br />www.atbar.org Retrieved November 30, 2009<br />DescriptionMinimum age for execution by US state, pre2005.svg A state-by-state map of the minimum age for being sentenced to execution in the United States in 2000, PRIOR to the :Roper v. Simmons case in March 2005. no capital punishment minimum age of 18 minimum age of 17 minimum age of 16Federal government: minimum age of 18 U.S. military: minimum age of 16 <br />