Juveniles and the Death Penalty
Over the past few decades many changes have been made within the juvenile justice system. One of the most debated and important changes was that the Supreme Court made the death penalty unavailable for offenders who were under the age of 18 in the ruling of Roper v. Simmons (125 S. Ct. 1183 ).
At the age of 18 is were society generally views the difference between children and adults. Many factors play a major role in how our youth are punished and in the ruling of Roper v. Simmons (125 S. Ct. 1183 ), such factors are:
1. Mental health issues
2. Lack of maturity and sense of responsibility
3. Negative and outside influences
Mental Health Issues
An article published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (2000) shows that only one-third receive mental health help while juveniles and that twenty percent of our youth today exhibit mental health problems during childhood. With statistics such as this it is easily understood why sentencing juvenile offenders and mental illness treatment is important.
Statistics shown in the “Incarceration of Youth Who Are Waiting for Community
Mental Health Services in the United States,” published by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform-Minority Staff Special Investigation Division (2004), shows that two-thirds of juvenile correctional facilities house juveniles awaiting mental health treatment.
As acknowledged in the 2005 ruling, metal illness can play an have a large underlying role in crimes committed by youth.
Lack of Maturity and Sense of Responsibility
Many argue that youth are not a finished product and could benefit greatly from education, health and mental health treatment, vocational direction and other pro-social interventions.
Adolescence is defined as the stage between the onset of puberty and maturity, roughly between the age of 10 to age 25. Research shows that teenagers do not use the part of the brain that considers...