Should Death Penalty Apply to 16-Year-Olds? ; Florida Votes on the Issue, While Capital Punishment for Juveniles Draws Attention in the Sniper Case

By Warren Richey writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 31, 2002 | Go to article overview

Should Death Penalty Apply to 16-Year-Olds? ; Florida Votes on the Issue, While Capital Punishment for Juveniles Draws Attention in the Sniper Case


Warren Richey writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


In an important moment of candor, US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens last week criticized the high court's refusal to examine during the current term the constitutionality of applying capital punishment to juveniles.

"In the last 13 years, a national consensus has developed that juvenile offenders should not be executed. No state has lowered the age eligibility to either 16 or 17 since our decision [permitting the execution of 16-year-olds] in 1989," Justice Stevens said in a dissent joined by three other justices. "In fact, the movement is in exactly the opposite direction."

Next Tuesday, voters in Florida will have an opportunity to verify or invalidate Stevens's observation.

Constitutional Amendment No. 1 on the Florida ballot, if approved, would lower Florida's capital-punishment age eligibility from 17 to 16. It would do it by changing Florida's state constitutional ban on "cruel or unusual punishment" to ban instead "cruel and unusual punishment."

The statewide vote comes at a time of increased debate over the possible utility of the juvenile death penalty following the recent arrest of John Lee Malvo, 17, as one of two suspects in the three- week murder spree in the Washington, D.C., area.

The juvenile death penalty in Virginia could become an important tool in that case to help prosecutors pressure Mr. Malvo into testifying against the other suspected sniper, John Allen Muhammad, analysts say.

In addition, if it turns out that Malvo was the primary sniper, prosecutors may seek Malvo's execution as a proportionate punishment for his crimes, they say.

Arguments in Florida

Whether any of these developments have an impact on Florida voters remains unclear. Proponents of the constitutional amendment in Florida say talk about the juvenile death penalty is a smoke screen by anti-death-penalty activists. The measure's intent, they say, is to bring Florida's death-penalty jurisprudence into accord with the rulings of the US Supreme Court.

"This amendment does one simple thing: It changes one word from 'or' to 'and,' " says amendment sponsor Victor Crist, a Republican state senator from Tampa. He says the change will help simplify and streamline death-penalty appeals in Florida, which now take an average 14 to 16 years.

Opponents of the amendment say it is designed to undercut Florida's Supreme Court, whose justices are generally more liberal than the US Supreme Court on death-penalty issues.

"Amendment No. 1 is an attack on the integrity and independence of the Florida Supreme Court and its ability to check and balance the state Legislature on the question of the excessive-punishment clause of the Florida state constitution," says Abraham Bonowitz of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Should Death Penalty Apply to 16-Year-Olds? ; Florida Votes on the Issue, While Capital Punishment for Juveniles Draws Attention in the Sniper Case
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.