[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Jul 26 12:05:45 CDT 2004
Old enough to die
The U.S. Supreme Court should not succumb to the wispy arguments of those
who would have it impose a blanket ban on the execution of killers who
were under 18 when they committed their crime.First, not all juveniles who
kill are sent to the adult justice system for trial. It takes an
especially horrendous crime and special circumstances to get them there.
Such crimes are due individual consideration, and today's system offers
If a young person, because of the nature and circumstances of his or her
crime, is adjudicated eligible to stand trial in an adult court in a
standardized and fair process, that is protection enough. A jury will
decide such a defendant's fate as it does any other's.
State laws already require proof of "special circumstances" to impose a
death sentence on someone who committed a capital crime before he or she
A blanket ban is not acceptable because not all murders are alike.
Multiple briefs have been filed by those who would change the system, and,
in the process, treat all crimes committed by juveniles in one way. They
must not succeed, and so far it seems the court majority isn't inclined to
change the status quo.
A 2002 decision abolished capital punishment for mentally retarded
offenders, but that is no reason to push the envelope further to exclude
everyone whose crime was committed under 18 from the ultimate punishment.
The case before the court is especially heinous and exactly on point,
despite the contention by diplomats, the American Medical Association, and
former President Jimmy Carter that such executions should be declared
In 1993, then 17-year-old Christopher Simmons and a 15-year-old buddy
broke into a mobile home to rob it. Thinking the woman who lived there
might recognize them, they bound her up with wire and duct tape and kicked
her off a bridge into a Missouri river. The state is rightly appealing its
own Supreme Court's decision to reverse Simmons' death sentence.
The highest court in the land should let Simmons' execution proceed. If
mental competence is not an issue, why should he be spared the death
(source: Editorial, Toledo Blade, July 25)
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