Today, there are 83 juvenile offenders, people who have committed crimes when they were of 17 years of age of younger, on death row (Death Penalty Information Center). They are all male. Most are black and Latin and the rest are white. Most have committed heinous crimes such as murder, rape, or other violent crimes. In deciding whether to be for or against the execution of juveniles, some questions need to be answered. What were their motives? What was the driving force behind these horrible crimes being committed at such a young age? Is a child entirely responsible for his/her actions at such a young age? How can a definite answer be generated for any one of these questions? A juvenile is someone who is psychologically immature or a person resembling an adult, smaller in size, and usually at or below the age of 18. A person's mind at age 18 or younger is not fully developed and they are not capable of making rational decisions (www.pbs.org). Executing juvenile offenders, or even sentencing them to death is absolutely wrong and immoral. .
In the year 2000 and 2001, a combined total of five juvenile offenders were executed. That is the most since 1954 when 6 were killed. Three of the executions were in Texas and the other two in Virginia (New York Times). Texas, which has more than 20 juvenile offenders on death row, has a set minimum age of 17 for capital punishment along with four other states. Virginia has a minimum age of 16 along with 17 others. Fifteen states have a minimum age of 18 for capital punishment (Death Penalty Information Center). .
The United States is one of 7 countries that allow children to be put on death row. The United States has executed more juvenile offenders than all of the other countries combined. The first execution of a juvenile offender was in Massachusetts in the year 1642. The boy was executed for beastiality, or having sex with animals when he was 17 years old (Beiser 2).