.. th advocates, judges, and police have been critical of the movement to federalize crimes already handled by states. They see no advantage to sending kids to faraway prisons under federal jurisdiction. Juveniles on Death Row Should society protect itself from the fiendish acts of young killers or give them the chance to put their lives back together? Clayton Joel Glowers is awaiting execution in Holman Prison; he is the youngest person in Alabaman on death row and the second youngest in the country. He was sentenced to die in Alabamas electric chair for sodomizing a junior college coed, beating her to death with a car jack and dumping her body in a creek when he was 15 years old.
Its rough, all the tension, and all the worry, knowing that I didnt do the crime, and I have been put in here. Flowers said during an interview in prison. Jay Thompson, who was 17 when he was accused of murdering an elderly couple, pspent five years on death row in Indiana for his sentence was commuted to one hundred and twenty years. With good behavior, he will be 78 years old when he leaves prison. Thompson says, It is a very hard thought because I will never experience having a family, kids and a normal life.
You dont realize many things until its too late. There are sixty-eight juveniles nationwide on death row. Which is a big increase from thirty-seven in 1982. Two-thirds of this group are minorities, and two-thirds of their alleged victims were white. Funny how society is willing to give second chances to white children, but that does not extend to Latino or black children.
In 1988, The Supreme Court ruled in Wayne Thompson vs. Oklahoma that it us unconstitutional to execute anyone who was 15 at the time of the crime. In 1989, The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for those who committed a capital offense at age 16 or 17. Many people fear that the increase in juvenile murders will spur renewed interest in executing teens or locking them away for the rest of their lives. Prosecutors say many of these adolescents must be executed or given life sentences because they are depraved killers who pose a serious threat to society. Others-contend juveniles should be given the opportunity to put their lives back together. District Court juvenile Judge Robert E.
Lewis of Gadsen, Ala says, Ive seen 15-year-old kids who were 25 years old, streetwise. Some have reached the point where they are not anything in this world but vicious predators. The jungle is the only place predators can roam free. A civilized society is not supposed to have predator at large. The message ought to be that it is a no-no to go out and kill, and if you do you may pay for it with your life.+ The politics of it all is that many prosecutors will seek the death penalty more for juveniles who kill-as a plea bargain tool to encourage the youngsters to plea to life without parole. For a 14-15-16 year old, the thought of being strapped in the electric chair or death itself, is so frightening that they are coerced into pleading for life in prison.
Every politician is promising to get tough on juveniles. It is the new catchword. We will probably see even more call for the death penalty for juveniles for re-election sake. A 1988 study of fourteen juveniles on death row in four states concluded they had brain abnormalities, low IQs, poor mental test scores, a and serious psychiatric problems. All had suffered severe head injuries as children. Only a psychiatrist before trial had even examined five of the fourteen subjects. Although Troy Dugan was borderline mentally retarded and extremely mentally ill when he killed a man at age 15, today he lives on death row in Louisiana’s Angola Prison.
His parents fed him liquor form the time he was six years old to calm him down. His original defense attorneys never presented any of this information at his trial. Victor Strieb, a law professor at Cleveland State University says, It is basic human notion that you dont hold juveniles to the same standard. Politicians who say the death penalty will cure the homicide problem are like snake oil salesmen. Justice Scalia examined State and Federal laws and jury decisions regarding capital punishment for juveniles.
In concluding that the evidence of a national consensus against capital punishment for juveniles was inadequate, he relied upon the fact that fifteen of the thirty seven states have capital punishment precluded its imposition upon 16 year olds, while twelve foreclosed its imposition upon 17 year olds. Justice OConnor, concurring in part and in the judgment, agreed that no national consensus existed rejection the execution of 16 or 17 year old capital murders, and that the death sentences should be affirmed. She also stated that the Court, in the Eighth Amendment Jurisprudence, should also determine whether the punishment imposed was proportional to the blameworthiness of the defendant. In a nationwide poll conducted for TIME and CNN, those responding expressed strong disapproval of the death penalty for the retarded, although a majority supported executing teenagers. The United States is one of the few countries in the world that executes juvenile offenders. There are only six countries that are known to have executed juvenile offenders in the 90s: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia Iran, Nigeria, Yemen-and the US.
We should be embarrassed to find ourselves in that company that other countries are known for human rights violations. Of the thirty-eight states that allow the death penalty, fifteen set the age at 18, four set it at age 17, and 21 have a minimum of 16 years of age or no minimum at all. Because American justice grinds on so slowly, because the appeals process in death penalty cases often lasts years, juveniles who face capital punishment are almost always adults by the time the sentence is carried out. The aging perhaps makes it easier to flip the switch, pull the lever, or inject the needle. Putting young offenders in adult prisons leads to more crime, higher prison costs, and increased violence, not to mention placing them in danger from the adult prison population.