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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 123243 Find in a Library
Title: Thompson v. Oklahoma: Debating the Constitutionality of Juvenile Executions
Journal: Pepperdine Law Review  Volume:16  Issue:3  Dated:(1989)  Pages:737-762
Author(s): S M Simmons
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 26
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Thompson v. Oklahoma (1988) essentially states that it will not interfere with the executions of juveniles, provided the offender is sentenced under a statute expressly authorizing the death penalty for offenders under age 16.
Abstract: Although William Wayne Thompson and two others escaped execution because they were juveniles sentenced to death in a State that has not legislatively authorized the execution of persons under 16 years old, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Thompson case does not make the execution of juveniles unconstitutional. States need only legislatively specify the minimum age for offenders who may receive the death penalty in order to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling. An occasional execution of a juvenile will not serve any of the legitimate social purposes underlying capital punishment. It will do little more than assuage a particular judge's or jury's distaste for a particular juvenile, not for juvenile killers as a whole. Although the argument of arbitrariness supports the abolition of capital punishment for all ages, it is particularly appropriate when applied to children, who are often unable to appreciate the consequences of their actions. 189 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Juvenile capital punishment
Index Term(s): State laws; US Supreme Court decisions
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