[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- ALA.
j_sommer at gmx.net
Tue Jul 20 16:52:01 CDT 2004
death penalty news
July 20, 2004
Alabama AG brief opposes juvenile death penalty ban
A U.S. Supreme Court brief filed by Alabama's attorney general argues that
the death penalty should not be banned for juveniles.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King submitted his friend-of-the court brief
in April and uses as examples seven Alabamians sentenced to death for
crimes committed when they were 16 or 17.
King argues that the Alabama cases "leave little room for doubt that at
least some adolescent killers most assuredly have the mental and emotional
wherewithal to plot, kill and cover up in cold blood. They should not evade
full responsibility for their actions by the serendipity of chronological
age," King wrote.
His brief is filed in Roper v. Simmons, a Missouri case pending before the
U.S. Supreme Court. The state of Missouri appealed the case after the
Missouri Supreme Court ruled that executing people who committed their
crimes as juveniles was unconstitutionally cruel.
Groups arguing against executing juveniles include Nobel Peace Prize
winners, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric
Association, the Child Welfare League of America, 48 nations including the
European Union, dozens of religious groups and the American Bar
Association, which filed their own brief in the case Monday.
"Older adolescents behave differently than adults because their minds
operate differently, their emotions are more volatile and their brains are
anatomically immature," the psychiatrists argued. "Executing adolescents
does not serve the recognized purposes of the death penalty."
Offering grisly details of children being stabbed, King gave as his first
example the Shelby County case against Mark Duke, convicted of killing his
father, his father's girlfriend and her young daughters. Duke was 16 at the
Alabama is one of 19 states that permit the execution of juveniles,
according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Five of those states -
Delaware, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia - signed on to King's brief.
With 14 juvenile offenders on Death Row, Alabama has more than any state
except Texas. The state has not executed a juvenile since 1961.
Various problems in the cases against the juveniles have dragged some of
the appeals out for decades. Timothy Davis, one of the convicts listed by
King, has been locked up since 1978, when he was 17. He is now 43.
All juvenile offenders executed in Alabama have been blacks convicted of
crimes against whites, said Victor Streib, a professor at Ohio Northern
University who tracks juvenile death penalty cases.
In his brief, King details several crimes in which there were multiple
victims, including cases of young children and elderly people killed by
teens. He writes that a "constitutional rule taking capital punishment off
the table for all such offenders would have no footing in the real world,
it should be rejected."
(source: The Birmingham News)
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