Talk:U.S. Supreme Court: Death penalty for juveniles is unconstitutional

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Story scope[edit]

The discussion regarding the planning and enacting of the initial crime is not actually relevant to the decision of the supreme court in this case; they are strictly ruling on the constitutionality of death penalties for minors under a previous decision of the supreme court: Atkins vs Virginia. - Amgine 22:11, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Sources and citations[edit]

Every factual statement must be supported by a citation or source. I'm working on some of that, but you'll need to add citations as well. - Amgine 22:25, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

In particular, I really like the paragraph regarding the science arguments agains juvenile execution, but there are no sources to support it which means it is only conjecture on your part at the moment. It will have to be removed to the talk page here until it can be sourced. - Amgine 02:32, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Supporting this ‘’evolving standard’’, is the scientific and sociological research that finds juveniles have a lack of maturity and sense of responsibility, compared to adults. Adolescents are overrepresented statistically in virtually every category of reckless behavior. In recognition of the comparative immaturity and irresponsibility of juveniles, almost every State prohibits those under age 18 from voting, serving on juries, or marrying without parental consent. Juveniles are also more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure. They have less control, or experience with control, over their own environment. They also lack the freedom that adults have, in escaping a criminogenic setting. As well, since Stanford in 1989, only six States have executed prisoners for crimes committed as juveniles. Only three States have done so in the past 10 years: Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia. Thus, the execution of juveniles is indeed becoming increasingly unusual. As for deterrence, it is unclear whether the death penalty has any measurable impact on juveniles.


The source for the entire article (except the last paragraph) is the official opinion (87 pages) from the Supreme Court, itself. Justice Anthony Kennedy discusses the scientific and sociological arguments at great length in the official opinion. To discuss scientific and sociological research and how it fit into this decision is beyond the scope of a news article. One should consult the Supreme Court opinion if one wants more details.

The source for the last paragraph is my personal knowledge, experience, and expertise in crime, law and justice, in general, and detailed knowledge of this specific case.

I think it's also worth noting something about the dissenting opinion, since it was such a close decision. I haven't yet the chance to read the dissenting opinion, in its entirety.

Thank you, Amgine for all you improvements to this article and all. At second glance, I agree with you on getting rid of the specific details of the Mr. Simmon's crime. Though, it might still be important include some more details about the heinous nature of his crime. The significance of the ruling is that no matter how heinous, even in cases of terrorism, the death penalty cannot be applied to juvenile offenders. - kmf164

Which one? <wry grin> The Scalia opinion is not as brilliant as usual, though he does have his two points. I have not read the O'Connor one, which will likely be well crafted, reasonable, but require at least one or two substantive assumptions (first and foremost that capital punishment is a reasonable response.)
I'm not sure it is reasonable to cite a Justice for scientific or sociological arguments, but I will go back and read closely that section. We don't need to discuss it at all, though your paragraph is rather cogent, but if we *do* discuss it we need to include citations which support the discussion. - Amgine 03:14, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Dissenting opinions[edit]

Reasons that I feel the dissenting opinions are worth mentioning, in a sentence, what their reasoning is:

  • This was a divided opinion, and while I might personally agree with one opinion or another, a news article needs to be balanced and provide both sides.
  • While I personally think it is likely that this decision will hold firm for a long time to come (I find both the sociological/scientific research compelling, along with the international consensus), a change in the composition of the Supreme Court could result in revisiting of some opinions - possibly this one, and others.

I'll have to read the entire dissenting opinions, before knowing what's appropriate - if anything - to add to the article. If anyone else is up to the task, I welcome that too. - kmf164

By all means include them! I was a close follower of the Justices until the 2000 cases, at which a couple of them effectively destroyed their litigious legacies. Now I am merely an interested bystander. I'd offer to help but am distracted by other edeavours. - Amgine 04:07, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Supporting scientific research[edit]

The justices go into substantial detail, supporting their reasoning that a national consensus has developed. While the Justices are not scientists, I am sure their arguments are well grounded in the substantial body of scientific and sociological research that recognizes the mental/developmental differences between adults and adolescents. While not cited specifically by the Supreme Court, a specific study conducted recently, I think by Columbia University's School of Public Health, determined that the human mind and its capacity for judgment do not fully mature until age 25. The study was published in a major science/public health journal - I'm trying to find it, and was reported in the Washington Post (sometime in the past two weeks). The Washington Post article discussed the implications for teenage driving and higher rate for accidents. But, one can certainly link immature judgment capacity, to other behaviors including juvenile crime. - kmf164

I'm somewhat familiar with the researchers, but not the specific article. "Secret of the Adolescent Brain" or something like that, as I recall. - Amgine 04:04, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Specific article[edit]

What I read was in the Washington Post, and I can't find it - but maybe in their archives. But, this article from Detroit Free Press discusses the same research about brain development. Surely there have been many more studies, prior to this one, that also build this case that juveniles do not have the same level of judgment as adults. - kmf164