skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 199835 Find in a Library
Title: Juvenile Offenders and the Death Penalty: Is Justice Served?
Corporate Author: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
United States of America
Project Director: John A. Tuell
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
Arlington, VA 22202-4801
Sale Source: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
2345 Crystal Drive
Suite 250
Arlington, VA 22202-4801
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This Child Welfare League of American (CWLA) brief examines the death penalty as it is applied to juveniles; it offers current statistics regarding the capital punishment of juveniles; it presents current legislation and pertinent Supreme Court decisions, as well as international law on the death penalty for juveniles; and then it explores alternatives to the death penalty for juveniles.
Abstract: Chapter 1 presents the historical background on the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The first American execution of a juvenile occurred in 1692, and since then approximately 362 juvenile offenders have been sentenced to death by 38 States and the Federal Government. Juvenile offenders have comprised 1.8 percent of the total confirmed executions in the United States since 1608. Furthermore, this chapter points out that the United States leads the world in State-sanctioned juvenile executions. Chapter 2 of the brief turns to a discussion of the current trends and research in the area of juvenile justice and the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. Arguments supporting and opposing juvenile executions are presented. Opponents of the death penalty for juvenile offenders point out that almost all juvenile offenders have experienced some form of child maltreatment or severe trauma during their childhood. On the other hand, proponents of the use of the death penalty for juvenile offenders claim that the rate of violent juvenile crime is higher in the United States than in any other developed nation, making the death penalty a desirable tool for controlling such crime. Chapter 2 also presents the demographic data for juvenile capital offenders, as well as State legislation pertinent to juvenile capital punishment, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and the international law governing the use of the death penalty for juveniles. The case of Alexander Williams, who was sentenced to death in the State of Georgia for the rape and murder of a 16-year old girl, is discussed. In this case, Williams was granted clemency because of his mental illness, his age at the time of the crime, and his history of abuse. Finally, in chapter 2, alternatives to the death penalty are discussed, including promising treatment programs that focus on rehabilitation. Chapter 3 of the brief offers a summary of the main points presented throughout the brief. In conclusion, the CWLA advocates the implementation of a comprehensive system for reducing the victimization of America’s children, because in so doing, criminal offenses committed by children will also be reduced. Appendix, references
Main Term(s): Juvenile capital punishment
Index Term(s): Child abuse as delinquency factor; History of juvenile justice; Juvenile delinquency; Juvenile delinquent demographic data; Juvenile justice policies; Juvenile justice research
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.