Springfield (Missouri) News Leader

October 16, 2004


Christopher Simmons committed a horrible crime when he was 17. Simmons and an accomplice broke into a woman’s home, robbed her, tied her and threw her into the Meramec River.

He should be punished by spending the rest of his life in prison.

His punishment should not be the death penalty - the sentence Simmons is facing.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard Simmons’ appeal. His lawyer argued, in part, that a previous Supreme Court ruling banning execution of moderately mentally retarded criminals should apply. This is the same reasoning the Missouri Supreme Court used in overturning Simmons’ sentence.

The argument points out that in the cases of the retarded and juveniles, common practice and the laws in many states have come to view execution as barbaric. Further, the death penalty is not a deterrent, especially for impulsive teens.

Countering the argument that the areas of the brain controlling impulse control in juveniles are incompletely developed, Justice Antonin Scalia asked the ridiculous question of whether juvenile offenders should be punished at all.

All Americans say yes to that question. But it’s important that we also say it is wrong for the state to kill children.


Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader