Editor, Daily Nexus,
The United States is the only nation in the world to regularly sentence juvenile offenders to death, in flagrant violation of internationally recognized human rights standards. It is one of the leading executioners of juvenile offenders and is responsible for 19 of 34 juvenile executions carried out around the world since 1990.
However, even in the U.S., there is increasing awareness that executing children who commit crimes is an outdated and futile practice. Twenty-eight states and U.S. federal authorities do not sentence juvenile offenders to death, and of the remaining states, 15 have not executed a juvenile offender since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976.
The shift away from juvenile death sentences in other states may be attributed to the realization that children constitute a “special” category that requires “special” protections. It defies logic that in the very same states in which juvenile offenders are sentenced to die for crimes committed under the age of 18, they are simultaneously prohibited for other “adult” activities such as serving on a jury, voting, or purchasing cigarettes or alcohol. It is a further irony that in Louisiana, for example, a person under 18 isn’t permitted to witness an execution, but faces the possibility of being executed for a crime committed as a child.
Executing juvenile offenders strips them of any chance of rehabilitation. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society and must be better protected by both their government and their community. It is time to end what four Supreme Court justices referred to as a “shameful practice” and stop child executions now!