Coordinating Council On Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
John J. Wilson, Acting AdministratorNovember 2000

From the Administrator

The appropriateness of the death penalty for juveniles is the subject of intense debate despite Supreme Court decisions upholding its use. Although nearly half the States allow those who commit capital crimes as 16- and 17-year-olds to be sentenced to death, some question whether this is compatible with the principles on which our juvenile justice system was established.

This Bulletin examines the history of capital punishment and Supreme Court decisions related to its use with juveniles. It also includes profiles of those sentenced to death for crimes committed as juveniles and notes the international movement toward abolishing this sanction.

I hope that this Bulletin enhances our understanding of the issues involved in applying the death penalty to juveniles so that we may focus our energy and resources on effective and humane responses to juvenile crime and violence.

John J. Wilson
Acting Administrator

Juveniles and the Death Penalty

Lynn Cothern


Lynn Cothern, Ph.D., is Senior Writer/Editor for the Juvenile Justice Resource Center (JJRC) in Rockville, MD. Lucy Hudson, Project Manager for JJRC, and Ellen McLaughlin, Writer/Editor for the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse (JJC) in Rockville, MD, revised and updated the Bulletin using source material provided by the author. Nancy Walsh, Senior Writer/Editor for JJC, wrote the sidebar on the Life in Prison Without Possibility of Release pages.

NCJ 184748

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