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Home > News & Media Center > Issues, News, and Events > Death Penalty for Juveniles


Death Penalty for Juveniles

Supreme Court to Hear Juvenile Death Penalty Case

CWLA Joins Child Advocacy Groups to Submit Legal Brief to Supreme Court Opposing the Death Penalty for Juveniles

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty for juvenile offenders. In Roper v. Simmons, the Court will hear the Missouri case of Christopher Simmons, who was sentenced to death for a murder he committed when he was 17 years old.

Last year, the Missouri Supreme Court set aside Simmons's death sentence and resentenced him to life in prison without parole. The Missouri court ruled that the execution of those who commit crimes while younger than 18 violates evolving standards of decency and is therefore prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

CWLA joined this case by signing onto an amicus brief drafted by the American Bar Association's Juvenile Justice Center. The brief, one of 16 amicus briefs filed, focuses on child advocacy issues and argues that adolescents are fundamentally different from adults (less mature, less capable of making good decisions, more impulsive, more susceptible to peer influences, etc.) in ways that make them less culpable and less blameworthy under the Eighth Amendment.

For more information about Christopher Simmons and his case, or to read the amicus briefs, see
American Bar Association
Criminal Justice Reform Education Fund
Download the Roper v. Simmons transcript from the October 13 oral arguments before
    the U.S. Supreme Court
(PDF File. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
A decision is expected sometime between January and June 2005.

For more information about CWLA's participation in this case, contact Joyce Johnson, 804/492-4519.

More Information

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