Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Child's Play: I had no idea this country was considered so prehistoric until the Supreme Court passed their 5-4 ruling against putting juveniles to death for murder. Apparently only the likes of Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China still administered capital punishment to criminals under the age of 18. This country was living in the dark ages, some people argue, and needs to catch up to international norms.

I'm sure there's a case to be made that people under 18 shouldn't be subject to capital punishment. But I don't think it's the Supreme Court's place to decide for sure. Calling it "cruel and unusual punishment" sounds like a reach.

The age of 18 is an arbitrary number to decide who is an adult and who is a juvenile. The 17-year-old murderer in question even bragged that he could avoid the death penalty because he was too young. The Supreme Court's blanket formula cannot take into account every possible situation that might occur. Only a jury can do that, on a case by case basis. And if a jury finds that a 17-year-old had the same mental capacity as an adult when he committed a crime, that person should be punished the same as an adult.

If every state legislature decided against capital punishment for juveniles, that would be a different matter, because an elected body could be held accountable. But the Supreme Court seems more concerned about the criminal's rights than about the victims and their families, in this instance.


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