February 24, 2015
Should Juveniles be sentenced to the Death Penalty?
Juveniles are highly incapable of making reasoning and lifelong decisions. Teens are not allowed to drink, drive, nor can they sign their own parental consent; therefore, they are not capable of fully being responsible adults. Teens are not mature until they reach nearly the age 20. They lack reasoning and judgment because their cerebellum hasn’t fully grown. Most troubled teens are a product of their environment in which they were raised upon. Some were abused, and therefore are acting out the only way they know how. There a lot of things that teens aren’t allowed to do and if they are doing them they are still considered minors. For instance, if a teenager who is 14 have a baby, she is still under the state law considered a minor. However if a teenager tries to commit murder we charge them as an adult. The punishment shall fit the crime however, it should also fit the circumstance in which the crime was committed. Sentencing teens to the death penalty is cruel and unreasonable; therefore, juveniles should not be sentenced to the death penalty.
Many people don’t understand why some teens act out in an impulsive, irrational, or a dangerous way. Teens are different from adults in the way they behave, solve problems, and make decisions. There is a biological explanation for this difference. Studies have shown that brains continue to mature and develop throughout childhood and up until early adulthood. Amygdala which is a region of the brain, is responsible for instinctual reactions including fear and aggressive behavior. This part of the region develops early. However, the frontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act, develops later. Scientists found that the prefrontal cortex is immature in teenagers compared to adults (anonymous 1). This part of the brain is still changing and maturing well into adulthood. Teens are incapable of making reasoning and lifelong decisions. Most teens are less likely to think before they act, think about future consequences or modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors.
Most juveniles are unaware of their actions and don’t think about the end result of their crimes. Most juveniles commit crimes just for attention or to be part of a gang. Juveniles don’t think about the crimes they are committing; they are just committing them to be a part of something. Most murders are committed in the heat of passion or while a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Murderers do not expect to be caught or to be sentenced to death, so the threat of the death penalty has no effect on them. Yes, it will deter that person from ever committing another murder, but so would a life sentence. A life sentence is just; capital punishment is revenge. “Ten of the 12 states without capital punishment have homicide rates below the national average,” the Times said, “while half the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above the national average.” In a state-by- state analysis, the Times found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 percent to 101 percent higher than in states without the death penalty (GW 2). The courts need to take a good look at each individual case and determine the reason why juveniles are committing felony crimes, whether it is gang associated, peer pressure, or a lack of supervision in the household. Statistics are not available to show whether lowering the age to 17 has made a direct impact on juvenile crime, state officials said. But what is clear is that most 17-year-olds are not chronic or serious offenders, and they do not necessarily receive the harsh punishments or supervision that those who advocate trying them as adults might have in mind. Judge Edwin Kelly, who heads New Hampshire's district courts, said hundreds of 17-year-olds passing through the