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Juveniles and the Death Penalty

The controversy surrounding the juvenile death penalty is not new; the courts have struggled with the issue for decades. Meanwhile, psychologists have presented research results on both the capabilities of juveniles and the public's support for the juvenile death penalty. Although the Supreme Court has not consistently relied on psychological findings, those findings are relevant to the legal debate.

Supreme Court Rulings

In 1988, the U.S. Supreme Court in Thompson v. Oklahoma overturned a death sentence for a 15-yearold offender because it violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The Court found that the community's “evolving standards of decency” were incommensurate with the execution of a juvenile. The Court considered four factors: the number of state statutes prohibiting the juvenile death penalty for ...

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