Controversial Issues Regarding Juvenile Death Penalty

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One of the most controversial issues in the rights of juveniles today is addressed in the question, Should the death penalty be applied to juveniles? For nearly a century the juvenile courts have existed to shield the majority of juvenile offenders from the full weight of criminal law and to protect their entitled special rights and immunities. In the case of kent vs. United states in 1996, Justice Fortas stated some of these special rights which include; Protection from publicity, confinement only to twenty-one years of age, no confinement with adults, and protection against the consequences of adult conviction such as the loss of civil rights, the use of adjudication against him in subsequent proceedings and disqualification of public …show more content…

Before the minimum age of 16 statutes, English Common law from the 16th Century had a direct influence on the Constitution. This common law carried over to American statutes and established the presumption that no one under the age of seven had the mental capacity to commit crimes, therefore, they had no concept of mens rea or evil intent (Hale 23). In English Common L, Criminal intent had to be proven in cases concerning offenders of ages seven to fourteen. This carried over to become an American standard (hale 23). Only in cases of youth ages fourteen and over was it possible to concede that they had the mental capacity to perform a crime with mens rea (Samaha 1993:295). After adopting these common laws, individual states made specific changes within the law. For example, some states excluded juvenile court from the proceedings when crimes were severe (hale 23). These exclusions lead to my next subject on the methods of transferring juvenile cases to criminal courts and in turn, makes it possible to sentence violent juvenile offenders the death penalty. The idea of whether or not the death penalty should apply to juvenile violent offenders is only possible through the transfer of juveniles out of the juvenile court and into the adult criminal court. Only then can a guilty violent youth be punished to the full extent. As the number of certified or transferred cases increases, the public recognition that juveniles can and do

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