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Thompson v Oklahoma 1988 - Essay Example

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In the 1988 Thompson vs. Oklahoma case, the Supreme court overturned an Oklahoma court's decision to sentence a fifteen year-old to death. The Supreme court held that rendering capital punishment to a minor is "cruel and unusual" and would violate the 8th and 14th Constitutional amendments.
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Thompson v Oklahoma 1988
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In the 1988 Thompson vs. Oklahoma case, the Supreme court overturned an Oklahoma court's decision to sentence a fifteen year-old to death. The Supreme court held that rendering capital punishment to a minor is "cruel and unusual" and would violate the 8th and 14th Constitutional amendments.
I agree with the Supreme court's assertion that capital punishment for minors is unconstitutionally cruel for minors; in this particular case, they outlawed the death penalty for those who are younger than sixteen at the time of crime. I would not be discussing my opinion on death penalty as a form of punishment at all (that would merit a different set of arguments), but rather my dissent for death penalty as a just and appropriate punishment for juveniles. Even advocates of death penalty can hold that executing minors is wrong and undeserved.
Most juvenile offenders have a history of bad and abusive childhoods and have not had the chance to make peace with their experiences or lead normal lives. They also do not have a sufficient understanding of death as minors tend to think of themselves as invincible. Therefore, a threat of capital punishment would not really deter juveniles from committing crimes. The government should instead focus on instigating changes is the society so that neighborhoods would turn up less violent individuals instead of imposing the most extreme punishment.
Then there's the concept of justice and retribution to justify execution for juveniles. Minors do not fully understand the repercussions and seriousness of their acts, so they do not deserve this. The age, level of maturity, and childhood history should be taken into consideration when deciding a person's punishment. Those who argue the opposite strike me as too unsympathetic.
Proponents for using capital punishment for minors maintain that even juveniles are capable of understanding the consequences of their actions and should therefore be held accountable for it. I agree that juveniles should be held liable for their crimes, especially serious ones like murder, but the very young could should not be punished with the highest penalty in any system; such punishment should be something reserved only for the worst and offenders and those who have no hope of rehabilitation.
Minors are not treated as adults: they are not old enough to vote, make legal decisions, nor drink alcohol. By the same token, they should not be tried as adults. There should be an age wherein society could draw the line to adulthood. Minors simply have not reached their full level of maturity yet, and therefore should not be held by the same standard and accountability as a fully-formed adult. Read More
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