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Evolution of the Death Penalty in the US and Arguments for and against Its Application to Juveniles
The primary purpose of the juvenile justice system is to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent acts while providing treatment, rehabilitation, and programs designed to prevent recidivism. Juvenile courts have recognized that there are developmental differences between adults and juveniles and advocated appropriate rehabilitative systems. However, with the passage of revised death penalty statutes and the increase in violent crimes, the juvenile justice system has seen a shift toward stronger policies and punishments. More juveniles are seeing their cases transferred to criminal courts. With this change, more youth capital offenders are subject to death penalty sentencing.
Currently, 38 states authorize the death penalty and 23 of these will allow the execution of offenders who committed capital offenses prior to their eighteenth birthdays. In the seventeen years from when the death penalty was reinstated, 17 men were executed for crimes that they committed as juveniles. Currently, 83 people in the United States are on death row for crimes committed as juveniles.
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