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Essay on Juveniles: Banning the Death Sentence

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As parents the worst news we can imagine is harm coming to our children, but having a child face a death sentence is completely tragic. You think of the life they could have, you ask yourself where you went wrong. You put yourself in the shoes of the family your child has hurt and how they were denied of a normal life. Sufficed to say when a child is on death row their actions hurt all involved. While many oppose capital punishment, we need to look at why we should ban it for juveniles who commit capital offences.
In order to understand why juveniles under the age of 18 deserve their own capital offence punishment we have to look at the biological aspect of this reasoning. Researchers of the UCLA brain research team have found that the frontal lobe which provides humans with advanced cognition continues to develop into a person’s early 20’s. The frontal lobe undergoes far more change during adolescence than at any other stage of life. (Ortiz, 2004b, p.2)
“One of the things that teenagers seem to do is to respond more strongly with gut response than they do with evaluating the consequences of what they are doing”, explains Dr. Yurgelun-Todd of Harvard Medical School. (Ortiz, 2004b, p.2) Adolescents undergo dramatic hormonal and emotional changes the most dramatic hormonal effect is produced by Testosterone which is closely associated with aggression and increases tenfold in adolescent males. Of the 17 juvenile executions performed from 1973 – 2000 all were males. (Streib, 2004)
Those who support juvenile capital punishment point out that adolescents know the difference between right and wrong; that brain development and upbringing should not play a role in sentencing a juvenile to death. They believe that without the death pen...


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LeMoye. (2008, August 26). UNICEF. Retrieved June 5, 2010, from http://www.unicef.org/crc/
Mallett, C. (2003). Socio-Historical Analysis of Juvenile Offenders on Death Row. Criminal Law Bulletin , 77-78.
Ortiz, A. (2004a, January). Evolving Standards of Decency. Retrieved May 22, 2010, from Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Juvenile Death Penalty: http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/EvolvingStandards.pdf
---, (2004b, January). Adoloscence, Brain Development and Legal Cupability. Retrieved May 2010, from American Bar Association: http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/juvjus/Adolescence.pdf
Streib, V. L. (2004, April). Juvenile death penalty today: Death sentences and executions for juvenile crimes, January 1973 - April 2004. Retrieved May 2010, from The International Justice Project: http://www.internationaljusticeproject.org/pdfs/JuvDeathApril2004.pdf



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