US Abolishes Youth Death Penalty




 
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Boots
 
March 1st, 2005  
chewie_nz
 

Topic: US Abolishes Youth Death Penalty


Quote:
US Supreme Court
Reuters
02/03/2005James Vicini - ReutersThe US Supreme Court has abolished the death penalty for juveniles, a major victory for opponents of capital punishment in the last country in the world that gave official sanction to the execution of people who commit crimes as minors.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court declared unconstitutional the death penalty those under the age of 18 when they committed their crimes, a decision that could affect more than 70 death row inmates who face execution for murders done when they were 16 or 17 years old.

The decision on Tuesday amounted to a significant change from the Supreme Court ruling 16 years ago when it held the execution of juvenile offenders did not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The Amnesty International human rights organization, which has campaigned for years against the execution of child offenders, hailed the ruling.

"Today's ruling we see as one of the final milestones in the road to global abolition of the death penalty for crimes committed by children," she said.

Opponents of capital punishment had argued that world opinion and a national consensus has now formed against the juvenile death penalty and said it should be struck down as unconstitutional, like the Supreme Court did in 2002 in barring executions of mentally retarded criminals.

In the court's majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed and declared the US Constitution forbids the imposition of the death penalty against offenders who were under the age of 18 when their crimes were committed.

"It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime," he wrote in the 25-page opinion.

Kennedy cited evidence of a national consensus against the death penalty for juveniles. "Neither retribution not deterrence provides adequate justification for imposing the death penalty on juvenile offenders," he said.

Kennedy noted that the United States was the only country in the world that still gave official sanction to the juvenile death penalty.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented from the ruling.

"The US was the only country openly admitting and claiming for itself the right to do this. So the fact that the US has now ended it by this ruling really is a huge step toward global abolition for the death penalty for children," said Amnesty International researcher Rob Freer in London.

He said the United States had carried out 19 of the 39 executions of child offenders that Amnesty has recorded world wide since 1990.

The other countries that carried out such executions were Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But Freer said even those countries now consider the practice illegal, although they have not all succeeded in halting it.

Using the death penalty against offenders who were under 18 when they committed a crime is explicitly banned by the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by 192 countries - every country in the world except the United States and Somalia.

"But Somalia has no recognised government. The United States certainly has a recognised government," Freer said.

"It's one of the clearest principles around, which is why it is so shocking that the US has until this time refused to do it," he added.

Thirty eight US states and the federal government have the death penalty, of which 19 and the federal government have an age minimum of 18 for capital punishment, the Death Penalty Information Centre, which opposes capital punishment, said.

It said the other 19 states allow the death penalty for juvenile offenders, with five states setting age 17 as the minimum and with 14 states using age 16 as the minimum. In 1988, the Supreme Court barred the death penalty for those 15 or younger at the time of their crime.

The group said 22 inmates have been executed for murders committed at ages 16 or 17 since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. These executions make up about 2 percent of the total number of executions.

The justices agreed to revisit the juvenile death penalty after the Missouri Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court overturned the death sentence for Christopher Simmons, who was 17 in 1993 when he tied up a woman and threw her off a bridge, resulting in her death by drowning. The state court resentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Kennedy's opinion upheld the state court decision.

Opponents of the death penalty hailed the ruling.

In Atlanta, former President Jimmy Carter said, "This ruling acknowledges the profound inconsistency in prohibiting those under 18 years of age from voting, serving in the military, or buying cigarettes, while allowing them to be sentenced to the ultimate punishment."

David Elliot, a spokesman for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said, "Today's decision confirms what we all know and what science has recently proven. Kids are different."

William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said, "Today, the court repudiated the misguided idea that the United States can pledge to leave no child behind while simultaneously exiling children to the death chamber."
can i just YAY! finally!
March 1st, 2005  
03USMC
 
 
Had they picked a different test case than other than Christopher Simmons AKA The Chain of Rocks Killer. I might be willing to explore the where fors and what if's. However having talked to a couple of Detectives who worked the case ( I occured about 120 miles from where I presently work) I feel that Simmons deserves the needle. Psychopaths are Psychopaths regardless of their age. At 17 you know the difference. Now he's just a scumbag suckin up tax dollars.
March 1st, 2005  
chewie_nz
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 03USMC
Had they picked a different test case than other than Christopher Simmons AKA The Chain of Rocks Killer. I might be willing to explore the where fors and what if's. However having talked to a couple of Detectives who worked the case ( I occured about 120 miles from where I presently work) I feel that Simmons deserves the needle. Psychopaths are Psychopaths regardless of their age. At 17 you know the difference. Now he's just a scumbag suckin up tax dollars.
17?? thats close enough to an adult....different terminology i guess, over here depending on the crime a child is younger than 15.

so what did this guy do?
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Boots
March 1st, 2005  
DTop
 
 
It also lets convicted D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo live.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp.../rm10103011605
March 1st, 2005  
chewie_nz
 
i'll just make this clear right now...


i'm against the death penalty.


cool? as you were.


just went to this site about the "chain of rocks" guy. frankly...bollox to it.
http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/simmons.html

A "dysfunctional home life" can be a root cause for many things. it can be used to understand why something happened....but it can never be an excuse.
i know plenty of poeple that had a difficult time at home and the only way it affected them was "that won't happen to my kids"
March 1st, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
While not against the death penalty, I think it should be more strictly enforced, and by that I mean only when no possibility of doubt exists (i.e they have the camera footage of the guy shooting up 30 people at a MacDonalds) and when no possibility of mental illness exists. I'm not talking psychopaths here but people who are truly out of it and incapable of understanding what they did. Going berserk because you lost out on a promotion or such wouldn't qualify. Neither would growing up in a bad home. They would need more than a couple people's eye witness testimony as well. The cases recently spot lighted in Illinois where DNA results overturned convictions from eye witness testimony clearly call for the need for that. As we both acknowledged in the "MacDonalds" thread, Chewie, there is a point when you know right from wrong and when the act was planned and carried out. That's what is most important I believe. The age of this I'm sure can be quantified by experts in child development. I don't think a four year old who dropped a heavy object on their baby sister because they didn't like the attention the new arrival was getting would be determined to have understood what they had done, but a 12 year old who throttled her 9 year old sister certainly knew. It is up to the courts to decide if this was mental illness or pure and simple cruelty.
March 1st, 2005  
chewie_nz
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charge_7
While not against the death penalty, I think it should be more strictly enforced, and by that I mean only when no possibility of doubt exists (i.e they have the camera footage of the guy shooting up 30 people at a MacDonalds) and when no possibility of mental illness exists. I'm not talking psychopaths here but people who are truly out of it and incapable of understanding what they did. Going berserk because you lost out on a promotion or such wouldn't qualify. Neither would growing up in a bad home. They would need more than a couple people's eye witness testimony as well. The cases recently spot lighted in Illinois where DNA results overturned convictions from eye witness testimony clearly call for the need for that. As we both acknowledged in the "MacDonalds" thread, Chewie, there is a point when you know right from wrong and when the act was planned and carried out. That's what is most important I believe. The age of this I'm sure can be quantified by experts in child development. I don't think a four year old who dropped a heavy object on their baby sister because they didn't like the attention the new arrival was getting would be determined to have understood what they had done, but a 12 year old who throttled her 9 year old sister certainly knew. It is up to the courts to decide if this was mental illness or pure and simple cruelty.
spot on....couldn't agree more.
March 2nd, 2005  
Italian Guy
 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charge_7
While not against the death penalty, I think it should be more strictly enforced, and by that I mean only when no possibility of doubt exists (i.e they have the camera footage of the guy shooting up 30 people at a MacDonalds) and when no possibility of mental illness exists. I'm not talking psychopaths here but people who are truly out of it and incapable of understanding what they did. Going berserk because you lost out on a promotion or such wouldn't qualify. Neither would growing up in a bad home. They would need more than a couple people's eye witness testimony as well. The cases recently spot lighted in Illinois where DNA results overturned convictions from eye witness testimony clearly call for the need for that. As we both acknowledged in the "MacDonalds" thread, Chewie, there is a point when you know right from wrong and when the act was planned and carried out. That's what is most important I believe. The age of this I'm sure can be quantified by experts in child development. I don't think a four year old who dropped a heavy object on their baby sister because they didn't like the attention the new arrival was getting would be determined to have understood what they had done, but a 12 year old who throttled her 9 year old sister certainly knew. It is up to the courts to decide if this was mental illness or pure and simple cruelty.
I'm with you on this. Totally.