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NCJ Number: 136537 Find in a Library
Title: Thompson v. Oklahoma: Juvenile Death Penalty Insight and Analysis
Journal: Journal of Juvenile Law  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:(1990)  Pages:33-39
Author(s): D Peelman
Date Published: 1990
Page Count: 7
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Thompson v. Oklahoma that mere deterrence is not a valid reason for a jury or judge to sentence a 15-year-old juvenile to the death penalty.
Abstract: As a juvenile who resided in Oklahoma, Thompson had a long history of criminal activity and antisocial behavior. In 1983, he and three adult companions brutally murdered and mutilated Thompson's brother-in-law. During the fitness hearing, it was determined that Thompson could no longer benefit from the rehabilitative process of the juvenile justice system. The District Court's disposition resulted in all four defendants, including Thompson, being sentenced to death. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Thompson's death penalty conviction in 1988, ruling that a 15-year-old juvenile cannot be executed because age alone mitigates the crime. Such a penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and is prohibited by the 8th and 14th amendments. Although the death penalty is intended to serve two main social purposes, retribution and deterrence of capital crimes by prospective offenders, the juvenile offender is nonetheless motivated by peer pressure, inadequate education, and physiological turmoil. Without the ability to exercise a calculated thought process in committing a crime, a child cannot avenge a wrong that he or she is incapable of analyzing or formulating in the first instance. 22 footnotes
Main Term(s): Juvenile capital punishment
Index Term(s): Cruel and unusual punishment; Juvenile murderers; Oklahoma; US Supreme Court decisions
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