A highly controversial topic, in current affairs and throughout history, is the death penalty being the punishment for certain crimes. Even more passionate contention erupts from including juveniles amongst those being prosecuted. The death penalty should not be ruled out for minors. The previous statement is what is intended to be proven by the closing of this paper. Although intensely circumstantial, there are instances when it is agreed by numerous individuals and, in compliance with various states’ laws that a juvenile should be eligible to receive the same sentencing for the heinous and disgusting crime of murder that an adult would. Sometimes the sentencing is death. The purpose of this paper is not to argue whether or not the death penalty goes against the law of God or the constitution, but to simply convey that if, as a people, we come to agreement in certain places, that a “man” can be put to death if “justly deserved” then someone a couple years younger that is in the same position and situation, who commits the same act, should not be treated any differently. From the research that has been conducted to prove this thesis, opposing viewpoints and stances have been brought to light and accounted for.
Introduced to this collected information that sprouted from the research, one can become torn and found dancing in the middle of the topic, but, ultimately, can only pick one side. The gathered information that will be represented in the following text built support of this thesis quite easily in comparison to the weak and incomplete points made of the opposing side. Before building foundation and proving all of this, a brief background of the death penalty in this country will be provided. There had been many executions of people under the age of eighteen, long before the establishment of the U.S. government starting in 1642, in Massachusetts. The juvenile deaths by capital punishment totaled 344 spanning from the original Plymouth Colony execution to 1973(Arguments for and Against the Death Penalty. (2003) Retrieved from Retrieved from http://www.deathpenaltycurriculum.org) From 1986 to 1989, the execution of those considered to have mental illness or retardation went from being ruled as an eighth amendment violation to simply being a condition that needed to be thoroughly considered prior to handing down a death sentence.
Through the Supreme Court, a ruling was made again, in regards specifically to those facing capital punishment that happen to be mentally retarded, stating it to be in violation of the eighth amendment(Death Penalty Cases. (2007).
Retrieved from http://www.deathpenalty.uslegal.com/). In 2005 there was a ruling in the Supreme Court that found juveniles receiving the death penalty unconstitutional, although, there are still twelve states that will try suspects under the age of eighteen as adults ( Though, that is not unlike other instances in the U.S., when the constitution is blatantly disregarded) ( Death Penalty Cases in the US Supreme Court. (10/6/2008). Retrieved from http://deathpenalty.procon.org/) A simplistic way to demonstrate clearly why a juvenile should receive the same deadly punishment as an adult is to give an example that is irrefutable. Harvey Robinson. A simple name that not everyone correlates with a just cause for applying the death penalty to someone that is not “of age.” Harvey Robinson has killed three times, but also guilty of two failed attempts at murder, but they don’t constitute eligibility for the death penalty, because that is only an option for a juvenile if the victim is successfully murdered. The initial murder was done after breaking into a house after watching his victim prepare to go to sleep for the evening. All of Robinson’s murders and attacks involved victims of the fairer sex.
The two failed attempts still involved rape and strangulation. The first of the victims that survived was from an event that followed, not the first murder, but the second. The second killing, by Robinson’s hands was that of a girl too young to even drive a car, in which he interrupted her bike ride by swooping her off the bike and stabbing her more than twenty times. Next Harvey pulled the same stunt of breaking and entering as he did in the first case, but found his potential victim occupied with a male companion. This did not deter him from fulfilling his quest for murder. Instead he went after the five year old girl that was the off-spring of his intended target. He raped and asphyxiated the young child, but the child managed to survive his violent attack. This wasn’t the end of his spree. There were three failed attempts on the same women, over a short period of time, in which he did veritably rape and strangle during the first attempt (Katherine Rams land, (July 3, 2012). Youngest Serial Killer on Death Row. How might the movement toward leniency affect this kil Retrieved from
But in between time he did manage to ravish, defile, and asphyxiate one more lady. Harvey Robinson was seventeen years old when he began the pillage that the public is aware of. If a man twelve months older did the same thing he would have the same three murder charges and the same three death sentences. This guy worked the system, though. Through technicalities and possibilities regarding his mental health, he has gotten two of the death penalties reduced to life sentences. Which is always is a factor that should be thoroughly examined, but certainly used as a way out in this young man’s case. It was an outrage to the majority surrounding the case that of the five attacks and three murders that were presented that two of the three death sentences were removed after a later trial, due to the viciousness of all the murders being equally cold-blooded. The killings did not vary in intent or harshness so why should the penalty. There is definitely times where juveniles should surely be exempt from being sentenced to death for murder charges, but they mainly apply to all who might commit the same acts under the same circumstance, apart from age relation.
Once again, the standpoint of this paper is to show simply that there is no reason that a juvenile who commits a horrible crime should be exempt from the death penalty that he/she would indefinitely receive if they had only acted less than twenty-four months later. A lot can change in a person in two years. From birth to becoming a toddler, one could say there is enormous progress. Between sixteen and eighteen, there is not enough development or increased application of knowledge. Society hopes that someone would be conscious of the severity of murdering a fellow human being at the age of sixteen. Also, if we rely on the magic number eighteen, one would wonder why society wouldn’t hold the same person just as accountable if they committed murder the day before their birthday. Unless, there are variables to consider. The variables to take into consideration tend to be used as ammunition for the people who fight for the cause of ending the juvenile death penalty entirely. But these variables are merely just great reasons that any persons with specific conditions or circumstances surrounding them should be evaluated more carefully before using death as a possible punishment, regardless of age. There are legitimate mental disorders that exist that should immediately excuse a person from the death penalty, so of course this is one of the instances that should be applied to juveniles who commit murder (Nina Totenberg, (March 20, 2012). Do Juvenile