The Death Penalty

The death penalty is capital punishment, which involves first-degree murder plus special or aggravating circumstances, which justify a longer or harsher sentence for the defendant. The Prosecutor is the single most powerful figure in the administration of criminal justice. It is solely responsible for deciding whether to make a first-degree murder charge a capital case in death-penalty jurisdictions. A death-penalty trial is bifurcated into two trials, one to determine the guilt of first-degree murder, and another called the sentencing phase, with the same jury, to determine if the defendant receives death or life in prison without parole.          Modern death-penalty jurisprudence began with the hallmark case of Furman v Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), in which the United States Supreme Court declared the death penalty illegal and invalidated all death statutes nationwide. The Court concluded that the death penalty violated the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution after finding that the lack of statutes guiding jury decision making resulted in death sentences that were “wanton and freakishly imposed.” In Gregg v Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), the United States Supreme Court reinstated death as legal punishment after various state legislatures went to work, giving more structure to death-penalty laws.          In 2018, the American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a series of policies geared toward “ensuring that capital cases are adjudicated fairly, impartially, in accordance with due process of law, and to minimize the risk that innocent persons are executed.” In February 2018, the ABA adopted the following resolution: “RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association, without taking a position supporting or opposing the death penalty, urges each jurisdiction that imposes capital punishment to prohibit the imposition of a death sentence on or execution of any individual who was 21 years old or younger at the time of the offense.” The ABA “has long examined the important issue of the death penalty and has sought to ensure that capital punishment is applied fairly, accurately, with meaningful due process, and only on the most deserving individuals. To that end, the ABA has taken positions on a variety of aspects of the administration of capital punishment, including how the law treats particularly vulnerable defendants or those with disabilities. In 1983, the ABA became one of the first organizations to call for an end to using the death penalty for individuals under the age of 18.  In 1997, the ABA called for a suspension of executions until states and the federal government improved several aspects of their administration of capital punishment, including removing juveniles from eligibility.” With respect to juvenile offenders, the ABA opined that “there is a growing medical consensus that key areas of the brain relevant to decision-making and judgment continue to develop into the early twenties. With this has come a corresponding public understanding that our criminal justice system should also evolve in how it treats late adolescents (individuals age 18 to 21 years old), ranging from their access to juvenile court alternatives to eligibility for the death penalty.” Review the following United States Supreme Court cases: Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 553 (2005); Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 472 (2012); and Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48, 68 (2010). The Court has consistently held that “there is a difference in levels of criminal culpability between juveniles and adults.” Specifically, cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which includes torture, deliberately degrading punishment, or too severe punishment for the crime committed. The Constitution allows for the death penalty. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has also recognized that the Eighth Amendment’s evolving decency standards have made other groups categorically ineligible for the death penalty – most notable individuals with intellectual disability. Address the following questions in a 6-8 page paper, double space, with a separate paper for citations and address the following: 1). Give a brief overview of the history of the Death Penalty in the United States. 2). How has the criminal justice system evolved in its treatment of late adolescents (individuals age 18 to 21 years old), ranging from their access to juvenile court alternatives to eligibility for the death penalty? 3). Cite the Rule of Law, specifically addressing the Eight Amendment of the United States Constitution, with a specific focus on the fact that juveniles are sufficiently less blameworthy than adults, and the application of different sentencing principles that are required under the Eighth Amendment in cases of capital murder. 4). Should any considerations be given to the propriety of the most common penological justifications for the death penalty: “retribution and deterrence of capital crimes by prospective offenders?” 5). Do you think that the Death Penalty be abolished in cases where the Defendant is under the age of 21?  If so, who should decide Congress or the Courts? ANSWER ALL PARTS OF ALL FIVE OF THE QUESTIONS FULLY AND COMPLETELY AND NO PLAGIARISM I WILL BE CHECKING!

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