[Deathpenalty]death penalty news --- USA
j_sommer at gmx.net
Wed Mar 2 11:44:32 CST 2005
death penalty news
March 2, 2005
Ruling correctly exempts 16- and 17-year-olds
The United States joined most of the world Tuesday in finally ending the
execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes.
By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled, correctly, that executing 16- and
17-year-olds violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual
punishment. The decision ended the shameful practice in 19 states and
throws out the death sentences of about 70 juveniles.
The United States had been almost alone in permitting the execution of
minors. Only six other nations allow it, and those countries, including
Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China, have practically abandoned the
Tuesday's decision is consistent with earlier Supreme Court rulings that
outlawed executions of the mentally retarded, and of those 15 and younger
when they committed their crime.
The idea underpinning these rulings is simple: Maturity and mental capacity
help determine a legal level of responsibility. Society doesn't extend
adult rights to 16- and 17-year-olds because they don't possess the same
maturity and judgment. Nor should they suffer the same consequences,
especially death. Even the most ardent supporters of the death penalty
ought to approve of the Supreme Court's decision.
Evolving community standards might eventually force the high court to
reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty itself. Poor people
and minorities make up most of those on death row. Since the new science of
DNA technology, the public generally recognizes that a disquieting number
of death row inmates were actually innocent -- and that others not affected
by DNA technology may also be.
For now, the Supreme Court continued to narrow the scope of the death
penalty by making the right decision on the case before it.
Executing children is unquestionably cruel, unusual and unconstitutional.
(source: Editorial, Detroit Free Press)
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