Juveniles And Death Penalty Free Essays Samples

Example of a Critical essay on Law about:

death penalty / children / juvenile / rights / Christopher Simmons / Lionel Tate / criminal

Essay Topic:

The vital problem of death penalty for children as one of the most important issues of the contemporary system of justice.

Essay Questions:

Why is death penalty for children considered to be such an important issue?

Can a child take responsibility for a murder?

How can be death penalty for children under 18 justified?

Thesis Statement:

Under these conditions a child should never be sentences to death or a life sentence for they still have a chance to change and re-evaluate their life. If the aim of the prison is to change criminals for better then children under 18 should become the “material for changes” of the highest priority.

 

Death Penalty for Children Essay

 

Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. Juvenile death penalty pre-history

3. Peculiarities of children under 18

4. The rights of children

5. Lionel Tate’s case

6. The case of Christopher Simmons and other cases

7. Conclusion...

Introduction: The death penalty issue has always been one of the most important issues of the contemporary system of justice. Years ago the majority of the criminals were male over 20, but nowadays the situation has quite changed. Not only grown-ups but also by children who are under 18 years old nowadays commit murders and other terrible crimes. Ordinarily, a young criminal is not applied the same restrictions for his crime as a grown criminal is, nevertheless if it especially goes about capital crimes people start talking about the death penalty for such juveniles.A child always remains a child and if he commits a crime it is not because he has had a good life. It is not the guilt of the children, but their big misfortune. It is a misfortune of not having anybody to love and truly support them and lead them in the correct direction. Along with that it is common knowledge that the period of 11 through 17 is a period of an especially intensive changes both in the organism and the mind of a child. That is why it is not fair to put a child in the same line with a grown up that can be completely responsible for his actions. A child is not mentally capable of comprehending the crime he or she commits. The system of values in the age under 18 is not built yet, other people can easily influence children and the psychic process are not stable yet. Under these conditions a child should never be sentences to death or a life sentence for they still have a chance to change and re-evaluate their life. If the aim of the prison is to change criminals for better then children under 18 should become the “material for changes” of the highest priority.

2. Juvenile death penalty pre-history

The year of 1988 was an extremely important year of the United States of America in terms of the death penalty for adolescent criminals. Before that time even a fifteen year old could be a subject to a death penalty for capital crimes. The Supreme Court in 1988 refused to use death penalty over those criminals that were under the age of sixteen. Nevertheless the 1988 decision did not influence many states and for instance, the state of Texas1conducted its last death penalty over a juvenile in 2002. The U.S. Supreme Court has always called the execution of children a violation of the Constitution, where a child is every person under the age of eighteen years old. Nowadays 19 out of 51 state allow the conduction of the death penalty over children who are sixteen and seventeen years old. The death penalty of children fewer than eighteen years old is immoral, for killing a child implies killing a weaker human being that simply required supervision and attention from the side of his parents. As each society tends to be more humanistic, the probability of the fact that an eighteen-year-old is as guilty as a grown-up criminal starts being completely neglected. One of the main cases of the modernity was the case of 2004 of Roper v. Simmons. This was a fight between two completely opposite opinions – one was that death penalty for juveniles is completely normal, as the capital crimes they commit are sometimes even worse then those committed by the grown criminals; and the other side was that death penalty for juveniles is completely unconstitutional and absolutely immoral as they are only children and not mature grown ups able to be fully responsible for their actions.

3. Peculiarities of children under 18

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association have claimed that facts against the death penalty for children under the age of eighteen.

The main reason of such statement is the fact that the researchers reveals: the prefrontal cortex, situated in the frontal lobe of a human being whish is responsible for the formation of the most important functions of the brain finished its completely formation after everything else, so is the part that forms the longest amount of time [3]. According to the Wall Street Journal the prefrontal cortex is the management center of the human brain as it is the part responsible for the most important function – planning, anticipation of the consequences, controlling the impulses and is responsible for abstract thinking. And the most important fact is that this part of the brain is a subject to continuing formation until a human being is twenty-years-old. The second vital piece of information is that the decision –making process in adulthood is controlled by amygdala, known as the most primitive part of the human brain and therefore is the center of impulses and emotions.

These facts emphasize the notion that the change of the brain during the period of adolescence is immense and this is the reason young people reveal a big deal of the irrational behavior of the humanity. Children should not be sentences to death as the development and therefore the functioning of the brain is not the same for teenagers and adults. The line for death penalty should be drawn at age 18 because at these age the majority of the processes stabilize and rich the state of full brain formation. Even if a child knows what is not right to do, but he or she may still perform a behavior that would not be socially appropriate and may even damage the lives of other people because of the their mental incapability to evaluate their behavior properly.

4. The rights of children

So, according to the age peculiarities a teenager under the age of eighteen by no means should become a subject of death penalty. Some congressmen still tried to apply death penalty through lethal injection to guilty juveniles sixteen years of age. Such proposed legislations are truly inhumane and break all the moral laws and the rights that every child possesses. In case the Congress approved such legislation as a reaction the protests would have been tremendous, as killing people that have not even reached their mental and physical development potential means killing a person that is not able to take full responsibility for his or her actions.

There is not secret that the United Nations Organization has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and especially its Article 37 whish states that a child should never be a subject to cruel, treatment and punishment. According to this very article the offenders that are below eighteen years of age cannot be sentenced to life in prison or become subjects to death penalty [5]. This convention also states that a child that has committed a crime and is under 18 needs to go through rehabilitation. The possibility for the child being rehabilitated is recognizes a child being a human being and provides that possibility for the child to start his or her life for new. Such rehabilitation gives the second chance for the child and his family, because a child can change due to the fact that the development of the functions in his brain has not stopped yet.

Each human being is born innocent and it is important not to forget that 2/3 of the negative manifestations are acquired from the way parent bring their child up and the child’s social environment. If the child has only aggressive and violent examples in his social environment, is not accepted and guided by his parents, not supported by his teachers then the child’s personality deforms. For instance it is obvious that if a child is abusive he has a deficit of tactile contact and gentleness. These deformations may have the harshest forms: emotional instability of the child, aggression, and violence against other people. A juvenile is NOT an adult criminal and should never be treated alike, and especially be a subject to death penalty. The death penalty is meant to make criminals scared of committing serious crimes, but in reality this does not work this exact way. It is more important to prevent children from committing crimes and to remember that children do not commit crimes on the basis whether the crime in accordance with the punishment for it put simply reflect what the family and the society have put into his “head”.

5. Lionel Tate’s case

Lionel Tate’s case may without any doubt be called the most well known criminal case of the beginning of the XXI century. Lionel Tate, a teenager was born 1987. At the age of fourteen he was accused of a murder he committed when he was twelve years old, for which he obtained a life-long sentence. The details of the case are the following: at the age of twelve Lionel Tate killed Tiffany Eunick who was six years old. The girl was Tate’s playmate. The details of the murder are awful – the body of the girl has numerous signs of brutality such as injuries one of which is the skull fracture. Lionel Tate was only twelve years old when he committed this murder. It has been announced that the boy was only copying the wrestling moves, but no matter what it was the boy was imitating something that he has seen before either on TV or in real life. The Court found the boy guilty and accused him of a first-degree murder. The punishment for that is a life in prison.

The fact of giving a life sentence to a fourteen-year old shocked the society because everybody understood that a child in his twelve years couldn’t be judged as a mentally developed adult. It was for the panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal that a new trial was set in order to identify if Tate comprehended the proceedings held against him. The competency of a fourteen-year-old child to stand the trial was very questionable. The reveled the understanding that such a child cannot be mentally capable of taking responsibility for his own actions. It is obvious that Lionel Tate has committed a serious crime and the consequences of his actions are simply terrible because the life of another child was taken away. None says that the boy should not be punished, but not with death penalty or life in prison. The decision of home arrest and probation is right for Lionel Tate. Lionel Tate deserves being punished but not made to spend his whole lifetime in a prison for a crime he committed when he was twelve years old and could not take full responsibility for his actions and completely realize the consequences of his actions for the little girl and himself. That is the reason this example should always be kept in mind by congressmen before they make another juvenile lethal injection suggestion.

6. The case of Christopher Simmons

One of the most terrifying cases concerning the issue of juvenile death penalty is the case of Christopher Simmons, a seventeen-year-old teenager who in 1993, when he was seventeen years old broke into the house of his neighbor. The moment he got in the house he met face to face with the owner of the house whose name is Shirley Ann Crook, who was forty-six years old at the moment of the crime. To make sure that Shirley Ann Crook will not recognize him the boy bound her with an electrical cord and a duct tape, transported her in a car and threw her into the river of Meramec. Shirley Ann Crook died from drowning. Mr. Simmons committed the whole crime with a fifteen-year-old friend Charles Benjamin. As a consequence, Charles Benjamin was sentences to life in prison, as he was not old enough for death penalty. Correspondingly, Christopher Simmons was convicted and set for death penalty. Lately the Supreme Court of Missouri brought up the Eights Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that is against cruel and unusual punishments and another statement was that Christopher Simmons was not old enough when he was 17 to take full responsibility for his own actions. The majority of people would say that a seventeen-year-old boy must take full responsibility for his terrible crime, but people do forget one essential thing. This boy truly was a CHILD when he committed a crime. A child and no more than that. It is the problem of the contemporary society to start considering children to be grown ups. The modern society creates the need for little children to become mature faster, but the psychological and physiological cannot go faster than the nature has set them. This issue is often forgotten. When a child is in need of anything starting with attention and ending with a child having a stress because of financial troubles he may step on the wrong path but is still not able to be completely responsible for his actions. The artificial acceleration of the process of growing up results in the growing number of juveniles all over the world, so killing will not solve the problem, but only cover its consequences.

7.Conclusion

According to the Death Penalty Information Center 72 juveniles on death rows were under 18 when they committed the crime they were accused for. It is twenty-nine for Texas, fourteen for Alabama, five for Mississippi, four for Arizona, Louisiana and North Carolina, three for Florida and South Caroline, two for Georgia and Pennsylvania and one for Nevada and Virginia. Such states as Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah, Delaware and New Hampshire do allow juvenile execution but at the moment do not have any juveniles on death row at the moment [6].

All these “criminals” were children under eighteen when their crimes were committed. Being under eighteen great changes were happening in the brains and bodies making this people emotionally instable. Other factors gave them the example of how the crime can be committed but their inability to evaluate the consequences and the lack of functionality of the decision-making process lead to a sad end. They all should be punished, in order to firmly understand that committing crimes against other human beings is immoral but their death is not best way out of the problem. Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!

1 “As of December 31, 2004, 71 persons were on death row for juvenile crimes. These 71 condemned juveniles constituted about 2% of the total death row population of 3,487. Although all were ages 16 or 17 at the time of their crimes, their current ages range from 18 to 43. They were under death sentences in 12 different states and had been on death row from 4 months to 24 years. Texas had by far the largest death row for juvenile offenders, holding 29 (40%) of the national total of 72 juvenile offenders”[2].

 

The United States is one of the few industrialized, democratic nations in the world which still permits capital punishment on a state-by-state basis. Not all states have the death penalty but executions are still carried out in the United States and the punishment remains controversial.

Despite the singularity of its status internationally, the death penalty has historically been a popular policy in the United States, even though it has been hotly debated throughout US history in the legislature and the courts. This essay on death penalty will examine its legal status in the United States, its history, and its future.

Table of Contents

Topics

The Future of the Death Penalty in America

Why America Has a Death Penalty

Death Penalty: Arguments and Counter-Arguments

Death Penalty Pros and Cons

[ more topics for death penalty ]

Titles

A Comparison of the Death Penalty in Different Countries and the United States

The Death Penalty Debate in the United States

The Death Penalty: Is it Just and Fair?

Death Penalty: A Legal Overview of the Death Penalty in the United States

Outline

I.  Introduction

II.  Body

A.  Status of the Death Penalty in the United States

B.  The Troubled History of the Death Penalty in the United States

C.  Arguments Against the Death Penalty

D.  Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty and Counter-Arguments

III.  Conclusion

Thesis Statement

Given that public opinion has increasingly turned against the death penalty in the United States, combined with the expense of capital cases and concerns about the innocence of convicted defendants, it is time for the United States to take a stand with the rest of the democratic, industrialized world community and abolish the death penalty.

Body

According to a recent poll of US voters which asked them about their views of the death penalty, support for the punishment is at a historic low. For the first time, a minority of US citizens oppose the death penalty, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. “Only about half of Americans (49%) now favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder, while 42% oppose it. Support has dropped 7 percentage points since March 2015, from 56%” (Oliphant 2016). Support peaked in the mid-1990s, “when eight-in-ten Americans (80% in 1994) favored the death penalty and fewer than two-in-ten were opposed (16%)” (Oliphant 2016). Opposition to the death penalty was also vocal in the 1970s, particularly after the US Supreme Court decision Furman v. Georgia (1972) which briefly declared all death penalty statutes unconstitutional, deeming them discriminatory in the ways in which they were enforced.

The Supreme Court later found in Gregg v. Georgia (1976) that the death penalty itself was not cruel and unusual punishment, provided it was appropriately administrated and so long as its use was “judicious” and “careful” (“Gregg v. Georgia,” 1976 ). Post-Gregg, states with the death penalty have introduced safeguards, such as a separate process for determining if death is warranted, versus the subject’s guilt alone. The existence of the death penalty at all remains controversial within America, particularly given that the United States remains relatively isolated in terms of its insistence upon permitting the death penalty amongst modern, industrialized democracies. Other nations which still permit the death penalty include China, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia—hardly illustrious company in the sphere of human rights (“Death penalty statistics by country,” 2011).

Image Credit: The Economist http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/images/EconomistMap.png

History of the Death Penalty in the United States

The history of the death penalty extends far back into history, longer than the United States has existed as an independent nation. Even in the ancient world, the death penalty was practiced. “Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon codified the death penalty for twenty five different crimes, although murder was not one of them” (Reggio 2014). In Europe, by the tenth century, hanging was commonly used as a means of execution and by the Middle Ages in Great Britain and the rest of Europe, prisoners were often tortured before being executed, even for relatively minor crimes or for their religious affiliations. Well into the eighteenth century, stealing small sums of money were capital offenses although by the early nineteenth century in Great Britain, only serious offenses were capital crimes. This was also true of colonial America. “By 1776, most of the colonies had roughly comparable death statutes which covered arson, piracy, treason, murder, sodomy, burglary, robbery, rape, horse-stealing, slave rebellion, and often counterfeiting” (Reggio 2014). The US Constitution expressly forbids cruel and unusual punishments under the Eighth Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

The question of whether the death penalty is cruel and unusual has been hotly debated. It may come as a surprise that as early as the mid-nineteenth century there was a robust movement to abolish the death penalty and many states elected to do so. In 1846, Michigan abolished the death penalty, followed by Rhode Island in 1852 (Reggio 2014). The abolitionist movement was extremely influential in supporting the abolishment of capital punishment as well. However, even while many states banned the death penalty, other states began to simply search for new methods to use to execute prisoners. “Between 1917 and 1955, the death penalty abolition movement again slowed. Washington, Arizona, and Oregon in 1919-20 reinstated the death penalty. In 1924, the first execution by cyanide gas took place in Nevada, when Tong war gang murderer Gee Jon became its first victim,” and the electric chair, versus hanging, became more common (Reggio 2014).

Arguments Against the Death Penalty

The legal argument most frequently used to protest the death penalty is that it is cruel and unusual punishment and thus a violation of the US Constitution Bill of Rights. However, the US Supreme Court has not found the death penalty in and of itself to be a cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, although it has found abusive treatment within prisons to be cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court performs a so-called “ proportionality analysis” when evaluating a punishment according to the following three tests: “Consideration of the offense’s gravity and the stringency of the penalty; a consideration of how the jurisdiction punishes its other criminals; and a consideration of how other jurisdictions punish the same crime” (“Death penalty,” 2017).

Another important argument against the death penalty is its discriminatory nature. Historically, African-Americans have been executed in greater numbers than whites, even for the same offenses. The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) notes that while “56% of death row inmates are black or Hispanic” and despite the fact that “racial minorities comprise half of all murder victims nationwide, a far greater proportion (77%) of the victims in capital convictions were white,” indicating that the act of an African-American or Hispanic individual murdering a white person may lead to a higher conviction rate (Love 2012). Furthermore, the humanitarian watchdog group Amnesty International notes “20% of blacks nationwide were convicted by all-white juries” (Love 2012).

There is also a significant state-by-state discrepancy that can result in entirely different systems of justice being dispensed, simply depending on the location of where a crime has occurred. For example, “nationally, Alabama ranks 23rd in population, but second in executions in 2011” and “African-Americans are 27% of the population, yet comprise 63% of the prisoners” (Love 2012). The former states of the Confederacy make up the vast majority of the states executing criminals in the US. “Over three quarters of executions take place in the states of the former Confederacy (including 35% in Texas alone) with their history of racial violence, lynching and arbitrary Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, which sanctioned death for blacks for certain offenses” (Love 2012).

Image Credit: No to War – http://www.notowar.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/death6-500×375.jpg

The discriminatory nature of the death penalty is one of the major reasons that the US Supreme Court found the way in which the death penalty was enforced in the US to be unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia (1972): “The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities.  The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society” and found no evidence of any deterrent value (“Death penalty,” 2017). Yet while this temporarily required states to review how their death penalty statutes were written, it merely prolonged rather than terminated the use of the death penalty in the United States, as states reviewed how death penalty cases and sentencing were administrated. “In Gregg v. Georgia, the Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence” and “upheld Georgia’s new capital sentencing procedures, reasoning that the Georgia rules reduced the problem of arbitrary application as seen in earlier statutes” given that the new death penalty was not discriminatory against African-Americans nor arbitrary as previous death penalty statues of the kind overturned in the Furman case (“Death penalty,” 2017). Yet the statistics still indicate that the death penalty is being administered in a discriminatory fashion.

The US Supreme Court has had to act in numerous instances to prevent certain states in engaging in egregious actions and stepping beyond the bounds of the law to use the death penalty in cruel and unusual ways. A good example is that of the execution of mentally incapacitated defendants with low IQs. In Atkins v. Virginia, (2002), the Court found that executing patients classified as mentally handicapped was cruel and unusual because the nature of their disability “lessens the severity of the crime and therefore renders the extraordinary penalty of death as disproportionately severe” (“Death penalty,” 2017). The Court similarly found this to be the case with the execution of juveniles. In Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Court found that given that the justice system does not regard juveniles as mentally competent adults “juvenile offenders assume diminished culpability for their crimes” and death is therefore not a just punishment (“Death penalty,” 2017). The fact that state legislatures permitted such executions upon the mentally incapacitated and very young to take place in the past highlights the extent to which emotion can affect the administration of justice.

Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that innocent individuals have been found guilty of capital crimes, further highlighting the risks of subjecting criminals to the ultimate punishment. According to Levy (2014), in a study published in the peer-reviewed journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “since 1973, 144 people on death row have been exonerated” and an estimated “innocence rate is 4.1 percent, more than twice the rate of exoneration.” A lack of access to adequate representation can cause many defendants to languish in the criminal justice system.

Despite claims that the death penalty is just because it does not require the tax payer to subsidize a criminal for the duration of his or her existence, the actual evidence suggests that the death penalty is more expensive than imprisoning an individual for life because of the prolonged duration of the judicial process. “Death penalty cases are much more expensive than other criminal cases and cost more than imprisonment for life with no possibility of parole. In California, capital trials are six times more costly than other murder trials” due to “complex pre-trial motions, lengthy jury selections, and expenses for expert witnesses are all likely to add to the costs in death penalty cases” (Dieter 1992). Given the budget-strapped nature of many states, arguably such money is better invested into improving law enforcement and drug treatment efforts, versus the expense of bringing death penalty cases to trial.

The US Supreme Court has also increasingly limited the range and type of offenses which may receive the death penalty. Proportionality is a key criteria for allocating the ultimate punishment to prisoners, according to the Court. In the case Coker v. Georgia, the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty cannot be applied to rape cases (“Death penalty,” 2017). Interestingly enough, one of the arguments used by the court in Coker was that public opinion did not support the use of the death penalty for rape. The fact that opposition to the death penalty is at an all-time low is thus extremely significant, given that notions of proportionality and what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment are even, from a court perspective, somewhat subjective. Additionally, the public has also expressed fears and concerns about the way the death penalty is administrated. In the Pew Research study on public opinion and the death penalty, “majorities said there was some risk of an innocent person being put to death (71%) and that the death penalty does not deter serious crime (61%)” (Oliphant 2016). This fear underlines the moral principle that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to see an innocent person condemned to suffer an unjust punishment.

Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty and Counter-Arguments

Given that a large percentage of the population still supports the death penalty, it is still important to give careful consideration to their counterarguments. When arguing for the death penalty, the punishment’s deterrent value is often cited. Simply put, this suggests that when people fear the loss of their lives if they are convicted of a heinous crime, they are less apt to engage in such crime. The principle of deterrence is inherent to the criminal justice system itself, given that punishment is allocated and based upon the presumption that people are less apt to commit crimes when they will suffer unpleasant consequences.

But according to the humanitarian watchdog group Amnesty International, there is no significant statistical evidence that the death penalty acts as a deterrent. It cites the nonpartisan National Research Council’s conclusion of a meta-analysis of studies “claiming that the death penalty affects murder rates were ‘fundamentally flawed’ because they did not consider the effects of noncapital punishments” and used “incomplete or implausible models” (“The death penalty and deterrence,” 2012). If life in prison has an equally deterrent effect, it should be used instead, given the possibility of judicial error. Additionally, a 2009 survey of criminologists found that 88% stated that there was no evidence that the death penalty acted a deterrent to heinous crimes (“The death penalty and deterrence,” 2012).

Also questioning the deterrence value of the death penalty is the fact that it is unjustly applied—as noted before, the death penalty’s effects are disproportionately felt by minority communities. The uncertainty as to how this ultimate punishment may be allocated argues against the idea that people, regardless of race or class, will think twice before committing an evil action because they fear the death penalty. There is also evidence that the death penalty is not a deterrent because “murder rate in non-Death Penalty states has remained consistently lower than the rate in States with the Death Penalty,” suggesting that other social forces are significant in terms of the behavior of individuals and their decision to violate or to act in accordance with the law (“The death penalty and deterrence,” 2012).

Of course, another popular argument used to defend the death penalty is the idea that it is just retribution for a heinous act. Once again, this traces back to the ancient notion of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth being the only fair and just punishment to be meted out for the taking of a life. But once again, the fact remains that not all murders are punished by death in the US and the ways in which the death penalty is enforced vary considerably based upon the state where the trial takes place and the racial identity of the criminal versus the victim. Furthermore, given the presumption that murder is the most evil action which can be performed, the potentiality of the state taking the life of an innocent person, which is a very real possibility, argues against the notion that the death penalty is in any way just.

Opponents of the death penalty also argue that it is irrelevant if other nations, including most industrialized European nations, have prohibited the death penalty. They argue that it is important for the United States to take a stand for its own moral values. However, given that the United States wishes to take a bold stand in favor of human rights, it cannot afford to disregard what other nations do and the standards other moral nations have set regarding how criminals are treated within their justice systems. According to a 2011 study published in The Guardian: “China, together with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and the US (the only G7 country to still execute people) carried out the most executions last year” (“Death penalty statistics by country,” 2017). The US is in a poor position to criticize other nations when it carries out similar policies in regards to its prisoners. The United States should stand as a beacon of moral light to other nations in regards to its policies versus engage in troubling practices in terms of the ways in which it treats its own prisoners.

Conclusion

The history of executing prisoners has had a long and troubling history throughout civilization since the ancient world, but particularly in the United States, which espouses the value of freedom and democratic values. Today, the tide of public opinion is increasingly against the idea that capital punishment is aligned with the principles of the United States. There has been increasing attention drawn to notable cases of individuals who were exonerated after languishing for years on death row. The potential failures of the justice system suggest that wielding a permanent punishment is unwise, unjust, and cruel and unusual. The US Supreme Court has increasingly restricted the ability of state legislators to execute criminals, even though it has drawn the line against declaring the death penalty itself to be cruel and unusual. Finally, the fact that the death penalty has been disproportionately used against persons of color and historically-discriminated against minorities, versus in a fair and just fashion, further underlines the need to abolish the death penalty.

References (APA Format)

Furman v. Georgia. (1972). Capital Punishment in Context. Retrieved from: http://www.capitalpunishmentincontext.org/resources/casesummaries/furman

Death penalty. (2017). LII. Retrieved from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/death_penalty

The death penalty and deterrence. (2012). Amnesty International. Retrieved from: http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/death-penalty/us-death-penalty-facts/the-death-penalty-and-deterrence

Death penalty statistics by country. (2011). The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2011/mar/29/death-penalty-countries-world

Dieter, R. (19992). Millions misspent: What politicians don’t say about the high costs of the death penalty. Death Penalty Information Center. Retrieved from: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/millions-misspent

Gregg v. Georgia. (1976). Bill of Rights Institute. Retrieved from:  https://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/educate/educator-resources/lessons-plans/landmark-supreme-court-cases-elessons/gregg-v-georgia-1962/

Levy, P. (2014). One in 25 sentenced to death in the US is innocent, study claims. Newsweek. Retrieved from: http://www.newsweek.com/one-25-executed-us-innocent-study-claims-248889

Love, D. (2012). Racial bias of the US death penalty. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/03/racial-bias-us-death-penalty

Oliphant, B. (2016). Support for death penalty lowest in more than four decades. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/29/support-for-death-penalty-lowest-in-more-than-four-decades/

Reggio, M. (2014). History of the death penalty. PBS. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/execution/readings/history.html

Works Cited (MLA Format)

“Furman v. Georgia.” Capital Punishment in Context. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

“Death Penalty.” LII. 29 Mar 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

“The Death Penalty and Deterrence.” Amnesty International. 2012. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

“Death Penalty Statistics by Country.” The Guardian. 29 Mar 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Dieter, R. “Millions Misspent: What Politicians Don’t Say About the High Costs of the Death Penalty. Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Gregg v. Georgia.” Bill of Rights Institute. 29 Mar 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Levy, P. “One in 25 Sentenced to Death in the US is Innocent, Study Claims.” Newsweek. 2014. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Love, D. “Racial Bias of the US Death Penalty.” The Guardian. 3 Jan 2012. 29 Mar 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Oliphant, B. “Support for Death Penalty Lowest in More than Four Decades.” Pew Research Center. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Reggio, M. “History of the Death Penalty.” PBS. Web. 16 Mar 2017.

Notes for Writing a Death Penalty Essay

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