Discussion Reply should be 500 words each and include correct usage of APA format, your Christian world view, and relevant in-text support for both. Also, include a reference at the conclusion of each response in proper APA format
Juvenile Justice and Death Penalty
Juvenile offenders and the death penalty have long been a controversial topic in the U.S. criminal justice system. The Juvenile death penalty once legal and now illegal across all 50 states has sent ripples through the criminal justice system. The follow paper briefly discusses the U.S. Supreme case behind the juvenile death penalty ban, the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning behind its decision that was heavily influenced by scientific research, future possible implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, and lastly a Biblical perspective on juveniles and the death penalty.
Juvenile Justice and the Death Penalty
According to Cox, Allen, Hanser, and Conrad (2018), in March 2005 in the case of Roper v. Simmons, the Unites States Supreme Court reversed a 1989 ruling that allowed the death penalty and therefore executions of juvenile offenders, effectively outlawing and halting exactions nationwide. The Roper v. Simmons case revolved around 17-year-old Christopher Simmons. Christopher talked to his friends on more than once occasion about wanting to murder someone (Cox et al., 2018). Christopher also described to his friends how he planned to commit this crime that included committing a burglary, tying up the victim, and push the victim off a bridge (Cox et al., 2018).
Christopher would go on to carry out his specific plan with a friend. Christopher and his friend broke into the home of Shirley Crook, tied her up, blind folded her, and proceeded to take her to a nearby park where they continued to tie his hands and feet with electrical wire and cover her face with duct tape (Cox et al., 2018). Christopher and his friend then took Shirley to a nearby river and threw her in and as a result Shirley drowned. Christopher and his friend bragged about what they had done and were soon taken into custody. Christopher admitted to his part of the murder and showed no remorse during trial (Cox et al., 2018). Christopher was then convicted and sentenced to death, which later the Supreme Court reversed stating that execution should only be limited to those offenders whose culpability makes them the most deserving of such sentence. The Supreme Court cited that scientific developments have found that juveniles have underdeveloped sense of responsibility (Cox et al., 2018).
Juvenile Brain Development
According to an article by the American Civil Liberties Union titled, “Juveniles and the Death Penalty” (2019), the scientific community that includes studies conducted by the Harvard Medical School, the National Institute of Mental health, and the University of California at Los Angeles Department of Neuroscience, have found and demonstrated that the prefrontal and frontal lobes of the brain that are tasked with regulating impulse and judgement are not fully developed in adolescents.
Researchers have found that development in this part of the brain does not fully develop until at some point between the ages of 18-22 years of age (“Juveniles and the Death Penalty.” 2019). These research findings further suggest that adolescents may have a greater tendency towards being somewhat impulsive, have unsound reasoning and judgement skills, and may be less aware of the full consequences of their actions (“Juveniles and the Death Penalty.” 2019). Although juvenile offenders should be held accountable for their offenses, these research findings suggest that they cannot fairly stand trial to same extent as adults, especially when life is at stake in death penalty cases (“Juveniles and the Death Penalty.” 2019).
Juveniles and the Death Penalty Future Implications
The case of Roper v. Simmons may have possible future implications other than its immediate effects it created at the time of its decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. For one, the U.S. Supreme Court in its majority dissent agreed with the scientific community that juvenile’s abilities to reason and control impulsive is not yet fully developed and therefor are less culpable for their offenses (Cox et. al., 2018). The U.S. Supreme also showed that they are more willing to accept scientific research as part of their overall decision making process given that historically, punishment in the U.S. criminal justice system has been based on classical criminology tenants of individuals engaging in deviant acts do so rationally and out of free will.
Its also important to note that the U.S. criminal justice system has also relied on classical criminology’s position that punishment should be appropriate and fit the crime. Many may believe that heinous murderous acts committed by individuals, even if they’re juveniles like Christopher, should be punishable by the death, which may come in conflict with the scientific community’s findings of overall human development in relation to culpability of anti-social acts. Roper v. Simmons may be setting precedent for future cases and or the overturn of past cases, generating new case laws as humans progress and scientific data and technology is more heavily relied upon rather than a political and or religious approach.
Christians have been divided on the issue of the death penalty. The Bible, depending on who is interpreting it, may be interpreted as mandating, prohibiting, and permitting under certain conditions the death penalty on individuals for violent offenses. For example, in the Old Testament, the Bible states, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind” (Genesis 9:6 NIV). This Bible verse can be interpreted as God mandating that those who kill other human beings must be kill themselves, while other Bible verses, specifically Christ’s teachings, encourage and emphasize forgiveness.
Juveniles and the death penalty and or the death penalty in general, will continue to be a controversial topic. What is clear is that the reversal of the juvenile death penalty by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Roper v. Simmons sent ripples through the U.S. criminal justice system in part due to the reasoning behind its decision by taking into account new scientific findings regarding human development in adolescents. This then may set the stage for future cases, especially in juvenile courts, as to the culpability a juvenile has for his or her actions, and subsequent appropriate punishments.
Cox, Steve M., Allen, Jennifer M., Hanser, Robert D., Conrad, John J. (2018). Juvenile
Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy, and Practice. Thousand Oaks, California:
Juveniles and the Death Penalty. (2019). Retrieved from: