Too Young? Essay

1577 words - 6 pages

Too Young?ByAaron DechantEnglish Comp. I AMr. Keller25 October 1996In 1643 a sixteen year old boy was put to death for sodomizing a cow. Threehundred and fifty years later, sixteen states have legitimized the execution of juveniles.Four of those twelve states have lowered the legal age of execution to twelve. Forwhatever reasons the death penalty has been supported by the public since this country'sexistence. In this day and age of increasing violence, both juvenile and adult, it is time tore-examine the use of the death penalty as the ultimate solution to crime. The socialrepercussions of enforcing the state executions of juveniles far outweigh any of the benefitsthat may be gained.The cry for the death penalty is most loudly heard when referring to it as use of adeterrent. According to Allen Kale 'it is estimated that about 76% of the American publicsupport the use of the death penalty as a deterrent, however that support drops to less than9% when referring specifically to juveniles.' (Kale 1) The mindset of the American publicseems to be drastically different when dealing juveniles. And yet, with only 9% of thepublic supporting the policy, it remains in effect.Another strong outcry for the death penalty comes from those wanting restitutionfor the death of a loved one. It is the thought that a life is the ultimate price to pay whichfuels this argument. The delineation between adults and juveniles is much less clear on thispoint. Age doesn't seem to make much of a difference when dealing with restitution. Puttingan individual to death seems to put the minds of certain individuals at ease. This argumentis what makes that 9% seem to be the vast majority.The distinction between juveniles and adults is a very important one. It is often adeciding factor when one is choosing to support the death penalty or not. Although thedifference often consists of just a few short years, it is those years which make all thedifference. Often its deterrent effect and costs are greatly affected by age and maturity. Infact, most theories and reasons for supporting the death penalty are flawed when applyingthem to juveniles.The debate over whether or not the death penalty is an effective deterrent is likelyto continue as long as it is in place. However, its deterrent effect towards juveniles is moreobvious. There are several reasons why the death penalty does not deter children. Thedeath penalty has a very unique effect on juveniles. It has now become an ineffective meansof deterring crime while in some cases actually acting as an incentive for crime.The first reason the death penalty is an ineffective tool for law enforcement has todo with the hypocrisy surrounding the policy. Because the state is actively taking part inkilling, the death penalty is seen as hypocritical by juveniles. It is of course, hard tobelieve that juveniles not murder when they regularly see it being done by the governmentwith the apparent approval of society. This was supported when Victor...

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