Should Juveniles Be Subject to the Death Penalty?.
Juvenile crime rates are at worrisome high in the world today. The youth are an obvious example of the moral decay eating away at our civilized societies. In 1899 the problem was addressed by the formation of the juvenile justice system in an effort to more successfully rehabilitate juvenile delinquents to become contributing members of society. But does the label, "delinquent" apply to a juvenile murderer, or is a more fitting term criminal? At an adolescent age, does a juvenile understand the difference between life and death? Does he or she understand the irreversibility of their actions? And at what age should a juvenile be tried as an adult to face adult penalties for their actions? Should a juvenile be subject to the death penalty? After careful consideration and research, my answer is no, they should not be subject to capital punishment.
Retentionists seek to hold the current death penalty laws unchanged for these reasons: (1) the death penalty is a deterrent for criminal behavior, (2) a murderer is not capable or deserving of rehabilitation, regardless of age, and (3) the cost of keeping a juvenile incarcerated for a life time would be too high. While these arguments have merit, I have found sufficient evidence to lead me to the following conclusion, that the capital punishment laws should be changed to exclude minors, in all states.
The death penalty is the wrong punishment for minors for these reasons: (1) given the fact that the death penalty is in place to serve as a deterrent, there is not sufficient evidence to prove that the death penalty deters crime, (2) there is more of a possibility for rehabilitation when dealing with a minor compared to an adult, and (3) the cost of execution to taxpayers far outweighs the cost of life imprisonment.
In order to deter somebody from his or her desired actions, a deterrent must make an example out of one to persuade another.