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Death Penalty for Juveniles

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Terre Haute to Host McVeigh Execution
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There are currently 19 states that allow the execution of 16 and 17 year olds for the commission of capital crimes and 73 people are currently on death row for crimes they committed when they were that age. The U.S. Supreme Court has already banned the executions of 15 year olds and fewer states now allow execution for all juveniles since that 1988 ruling.

The issue is whether or not executing teenagers is uncivilized and immoral (cruel and unusual). Should juveniles face difference consequences than adults for the same crimes?

Latest Developments

In 1988 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty for crimes committed by offenders before reaching the age of 16, but a year later the court refused to hear a case that would have extended the same protection to 16 and 17 year olds.

In October 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Roper v. Simmons which challenges the constitutionality of the death penalty for juveniles.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Juvenile Death Penalty
On March 1, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to outlaw the death penalty for juveniles who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crimes, calling the execution of children unconstitutionally cruel. The ruling came in a case in which a teen bragged that he would get away with the murder of his neighbor because of his age.

Background

Christopher Simmons was 17 years old when he was arrested for the September 9, 1993 murder of Shirley Crook. Crook's body was found in the Meramec River in St. Louis County, Missouri. She had been tied with electric cable, leather straps and duct tape, had bruises on her body and fractured ribs. The cause of her death was drowning.

Simmons had a family history of abuse, a possible mental condition and substance abuse dependency. The jury who sentenced him was not given any information about his psychological condition.

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