.. Prejean v. Blackburn in 1984, a seventeen year old was given the death penalty and put to death for the same crime. These inconsistencies challenge the justice of the American Judiciary System, and also the strength of the Constitution. That is whats wrong with the age limit. Too many juveniles receive a slap on the wrist while others have to take the full punishment.
As the number of cases turned over to the criminal courts increases, the publics recognition that juveniles can and do commit serious felonies also increases. For example, if a youth who is not old enough to be considered an adult is charged with a capital offense, his or her case can be transferred to a criminal court if the crime is severe enough. One of the first actions taken during the juvenile court process is determining whether a case should be processed in the criminal justice system, rather than the juvenile court. In most states cases are referred by the juvenile court judge. This process is known as a judicial waiver, which transfers the case to the criminal, adult court. The number of delinquency cases waived to criminal court grew 73% between 1986 and 1994 and then declined 17% in 1995 ( Stahl 1). Between 1987 and 1996 the number of juvenile offense cases waived, or turned over to criminal court, increased 125% in the area of offenses against other people, increased 124% in drug offense cases, and 22% increase in public order cases. Only one category decreased in numbers of waivers to criminal courts.
This was property offenses, and it only decreased 2%, which is not as significant as the three categories that each increased over 100%. The general public has also lost confidence in rehabilitation programs for juveniles and say they are not successful due to the increases in juvenile crime. The seriousness of types of crimes being committed by juveniles is also increasing. The juveniles in the 1950s were called the Sharks and Jets from the famous West Side Story. Today they are the Bloods and the Cripps. Its scary to think that crimes could get any worse, and like the Bloods and Cripps, make the Sharks and Jets look lame. Its even worse to think a group could make our Bloods and Cripps look like they arent dangerous.
The youth, not only in America, but in the world are growing up faster and are exposed to more than their parents were at their age. As these youth are growing up faster they are also capable at earlier ages of committing dreadful crimes. Just because these so-called children are still young doesnt mean that we should treat them less severe because of their age. They have committed the same disturbing crimes, with same shocking lack of remorse as any adult in the same situation would have felt. These troubled youth need a deterrent from a life of crime.
If juveniles knew they couldnt get away with living a life of crime, and they would be punished for capital crimes just as adults are, fewer juveniles would commit crimes at younger ages. If fewer juveniles committed crimes at younger ages then they would be less likely to commit crimes as an adult because they didnt when they were younger. If a youth was discouraged from a life of crime because they knew the harshness of the penalties they wouldnt perform crimes. Often today police officers dont treat juvenile crimes the same way as they treat adult crimes because laws and penalties arent as serious for juveniles. The officer may feel that he or she is wasting their time on juvenile cases and should spend more time on adult cases. These juveniles are allowed back on the streets to perform more crimes, which are usually more serious than the crimes they were let off for.
Everyone knows that if one gets away with something once he or she will do it again. That crime may not seem as menacing to the juvenile and he or she will do something more serious the second, or even the third and forth times. Who knows how far a youth may go and in how much trouble the youth may cause in the end. He or she may even end up being murderers or rapists, who knows? Once a juvenile is placed in the hands of the criminal courts he or she is subject to all of the punishments that an adult offender would encounter, including capital punishment. This is fair because they knew the severity of the crime they committed and society has the right to execute them whether they are sixteen or forty-six years old.
Being on death row isnt cruel and unusual punishment, being a murder victim is. Those who are murdered and raped dont get a second chance. Why should the murderers and rapists? Chances are the offender doesnt go through half as much pain as the victim went through. The future of our court system and the punishment of juveniles for capital crimes depends on the reform of the death penalty, with emphasis on consistency and justice. Lenient sentencing based strictly on age is no longer acceptable for crimes of this magnitude. The death penalty saves lives because it stops those who murder from going back onto the streets and murdering again.
In order for the death penalty to work the practice of it must be more consistent in cases of violent crimes. People simply arent fearful of the death penalty when it isnt used the way it should be. Death is employed as punishment for only the worst criminal, and it is fitting that they receive the appropriate punishment. Although, there is no punishment that can entirely eliminate violent crime, a more perpetual use of the death penalty would act as a deterrent. Bibliography Bender, David L.
and Leon Bruno. The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991. Bortner, M.A. and Linda M.
Williams. Youth in Prison. New York: Routledge, 1997. Champion, Dean J. and Larry G. Mays.
Transferring Juveniles to Criminal Courts. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991. Flanders. Capital Punishment. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1991. Inciardi, James A. Criminal Justice: 6th Edition.
Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999. Stahl, Anne. Delinquency Cases Judicially Waived to Criminal Court, 1987- 1996. 1999. Http://ojjdp.ncjrs.org/ojstatbb/qa084.html. (4 Apr. 2000).
Vigh, Michael. Juveniles Face the Death Sentence. 1999. Http://www.sltrib.com/1999/sep/09/8/999/utah/25001 .htm. (4 Apr. 2000).