Juveniles and the death penalt

Today it is very difficult to turn on the TV or pick- up a newspaper without hearing about someone being killed or someone on trial for killing. With the increasing number of people committing crimes it is not surprising to read that an increasing number have been committed by children. Tragedies such as those that occurred in Littleton, Colorado and Little Rock, Arkansas, have generated heightened concern over bloodshed amongst America's young. The anger and pain provoked by these highly publicized displays of juvenile violence have been reflected in the words and deeds of politicians who call for tougher approaches to crime and increasingly severe criminal sanctions. As a result, the juvenile justice system, founded on the idea that childhood is a distinct stage of life, has slowly been dismantled. The century-old notion of children and adolescents as less culpable and more amenable to rehabilitation has given way to a harsher reality where child criminals are frequently indistinguishable from their adult counterparts. Since 1992, forty-five states have passed or amended legislation making it easier to prosecute juveniles as adults (Children's Rights; Speaking for Children. P. 2). Not only are more children being transferred out of the juvenile system and into the adult criminal system, but also today, more juveniles are receiving the ultimate sanction-the death penalty.In January 2000 three juvenile offenders were put to death. As of October 2000, seventy-four more awaited their fate on death row (Msn:Death Penalty Info Center; p.8).
. The United States crossed a significant barrier in 1999 when Sean Sellers became thefirst sixteen-year-old offender executed in over forty years. Explaining this increase in juvenile death sentences and executions, Texas juvenile delinquency expert Billy Bramlett noted that death sentences suit the citizenry "fed up with the expense of crime, the fear of crime, the d…

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