Death Penalty Applied to Juveniles Essay

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Death Penalty Applied to Juveniles


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
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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. 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…

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