States should not execute minors
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Updated: Monday, May 16, 2011 15:05
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that executing a minor, Christopher Simmons of Missouri, violated a constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishment."
Simmons was convicted of murder and robbery in 1993. His victim's body was found in a river, and "had been tied with electric cable, leather straps and duct tape, with bruises on her body and fractured ribs," according to CNN.
The court has agreed to hear the case again.
Those that petitioned for the second hearing are hoping to overturn the previous decision, thus allowing the execution of Simmons.
Despite Simmons' conviction, and the obvious severity of his crime, the court should uphold its decision to disallow juvenile executions.
Although the debate over the morality of capital punishment concerns criminals of all ages, executing an adult is more justifiable than executing a child.
Executing a minor violates the constitutional right that no convicted criminal shall receive "cruel and unusual punishment."
All of the 21 states that allow the death penalty set the minimum age requirements of 16 or 17 years of age.
Those that support the execution of minors argue that these minimum age requirements help to keep the court from executing very young criminals, while still allowing those as young as 16-who apparently qualify as responsible adults-to die for their crime.
But executing those as young as 16 or 17 is still wrong.
Setting a minimum age may make executing minors a little easier to swallow, but it doesn't make sense. After all, who determines the age that a child is responsible enough for his actions to pay with his life?
Even with minimum age requirements in place, eventually, with juvenile execution being allowed at all, we'll find child criminals of all ages being sentenced to death row.
Even the majority of Americans oppose juvenile execution, according to a 2001 University of Chicago poll.
The poll that said although 62 percent of Americans support the death penalty, only 34 percent support it for minors.
A 2002 Gallup study showed the same opinion-72 percent of Americans support the death penalty, but only 26 percent support executing minors.
The voice of America's majority should be heard, and the court should outlaw juvenile execution.
The United States is one of a few countries worldwide that still allows the execution of minors.
This policy violates international human rights treaties, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Both prohibit those that were minors at the time of their crime being sentenced to death.
Capital punishment should be used only in severe cases, when those over 18 commit a worthy crime.
Executing a minor is immoral, unjust and disregards the guaranteed rights of a criminal.
Thus, despite the fact that juvenile execution is on a downfall in the United States, the court should rule in Simmons' favor, thus preserving his life and banning the execution of minors in the future.
Shaina Hanson is a freshman political science major. She can be reached at email@example.com.