Should someone under age 18 be able to be sentenced to death?

If yes...why? I understand that if a 16 year old kills someone, they should be held responsible. But at the same time, they are a child. How can the government put a child to death when it basically gives no real rights to them before the age of 18 because they are supposedly "too young to make a valid decision". If they are too young to decide a candidate to vote on...or even buy a pack of smokes than how can they really make a valid decision to kill someone and be held accountable in a way that includes being put to death? Most are young enough that they could spend a certain amount of time in a detention center and receive the help needed to help guide them in making valid decisions for when they are released as adults. I guess I just don't get it...but killing a child to hold them accountable for their actions is unjust.


Okay then...example.

A 16 year old gets in an arguement with another over a girl. One threatens to beat the crap out of the other. So the other is scared. He gets a gun out of his fathers cabinet (and yes...father should have been more responsible with the weapons)...goes to ones house and shoots and kills him. He knows it is wrong...but is overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. So he did what he did. He doesn't truly understand the finality of it because of his childish brain. Should he be sentenced to death for that? Yes, he should be held accountable in some way...but death?

15 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    No, because of one of the reasons you mentioned- a person under the age of 18 is not uniformly considered capable of making adult decisions by the law. It is unjust to burden someone with adult responsibility in matters of criminal law while not affording them the rights of liberty granted to an adult. We often hear "With rights come responsibilities," and I believe the reverse is just as true. You can not fairly impose responsibilities without also granting rights.

    If law was to recognize a uniform age of majority that was under 18, that is a different matter. For example, if at 17 you have the right to vote, purchase alcohol, sign a contract, and join the military, a 17 year old should be tried as an adult.

    Of course, this assumes the death penalty may legitimately be imposed on an adult, and I am not so sure I believe it should.

  • 1 decade ago

    Technically, someone under the age of 18 is not treated as an adult offender - but don't call him/her a child. Depending upon the nature and circumstances of a crime, someone under 18 can be tried as an adult and receive a punishment as if they were an adult. What has to be shown is that the person can distinguish between right and wrong and know what they did was wrong. I think that there is a huge difference between buying a pack of cigarettes and killing someone. I would guess than even a 12 year-old would know that killing someone is wrong. Certainly a 16 year-old would. Because of the age, the young adult would probably be spared the death penalty - but still go away for a long time.

  • Selkie
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I have to disagree with you. I fully believe in the "age of responsibility" which according to the tradition of the Catholic Church about the age of seven a child is fully capable of choosing between good and evil therefore they should suffer the consequences of their actions.

    This may be extreme, but in most cases the person in question is only one or two years shy of the legal age & I certainly do not think that those few years would make a difference to their mindset, for lack of a better word, if they know that something is wrong, are aware eof the consequences (or lack of) & choose to go through with it anyway.

    Last year [24 July 2005] a couple of children (11 and 14) killed a puppy by grilling it. They told the officer that they were "just doing it to do it". Does that sound like they did not know what they were doing? No, it sounds like they DID know what they were doing; they just did not care. If they had done the same thing to an infant, would you still agree that they should not be penalized?

    Christopher Simmons was 17 when he and an accomplice broke into the Fenton, Mo., home of Shirley Crook in 1993, then bound her with tape, electrical wire and the belt from her bathrobe and pushed her off a railroad bridge to drown.

    Simmons told teenage friends that they would get away

    with it because of their ages, said prosecutors.

    Again, does that sound like someone that did not know what they were doing? No, he was fully aware of what he was doing. He knew it was wrong. Yet he made a conscious decision to do it anyway, knowing he would get a lighter penalty because of his age.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    With some of the crimes that kids commit today, oh a heartbeat. Thank God those two wackos at columbine did us the favor. I don't know about you, but I was well aware of right and wrong at that age. So all this feel good poor child who knew not what he did, is just a bunch of crap. So in some instances the death penalty is warranted, but with most a 25 years to life sentence as a minimum should be imposed.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    no, killing anyone is not okay. its bad karma for the universe and those people shouldn't get off with death. they should have to suffer the rest of their lives in a jail cell. well, the kids might get off easier because at 16 your body and mind are not all they way grown. they say when your a teenager that it is like being kind of drunk or buzzed all the time because your brain is growing and learning and you have all of these hormones to deal with. so no, they should not kill the kid, it is not okay and our government is lacking alliterative outlets and resources, plus better observation on the prisoners. they are not lacking weapons to kill people with. but killing people is easier so that's what they do because our government is a lazy sack of $hit with no mind of its own and continually disrespects other peoples rights and constantly contradicts the Constitution.

  • 1 decade ago

    If you are old enough to take a life, and know the difference between right and wrong, then you are old enough to pay for your crimes!!!

    The person they killed is no less dead due to the age of the murderer!! Why should we keep the killer alive and feed clothe and shelter him?

  • 1 decade ago

    I totally agree with you. If a child under the age of 18 commits a crime that is worthy of adult punishment, then that child has "serious judgment problems" and it is probably not their fault.

  • 1 decade ago

    oh gosh there are lots of youths on death row and it sickens me to no this

    no there should be no kid on DR what is death row proving NOTHING

    more and more people are going DR it does not stop people killing

    it does not bring back some ones love one they are gone for ever

    i really really do not understand why DR is still about

    that place helps no one and never will



  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hell no, at Eighteen years old your brain is not mature enough to grasp the realities of all your actions, so why should we lock kids up forever, or kill them.

  • 1 decade ago

    anyone that kills that knew what they were doing should be sentenced to death, i wish they would re-introduce it in all countries, especially here in the uk, its not a matter of making a decision its whether or not that person knew what they were doing or if they are mentally insane.

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