The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)

July 21, 2004


Fact: The United States is just one of five countries in the world that allows the execution of juveniles. Opinion: This nation has many reasons to be proud. But this is not one of them.

Solution: Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court invoked the concept of “evolving standards of decency” and used that to abolish capital punishment for mentally retarded criminals. That same standard should be expanded to include the execution of people for crimes they committed before they turned 18.

This fall, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to make such a ruling when it hears the case of Christopher Simmons who was sentenced to die for murdering a Missouri woman when he was 17.

The high court has already ruled that the execution of those 15 and younger is unconstitutional. But the court needs a higher standard.

Conclusion: The killing of children is too important a judgment to be left to the discretion of judges and juries on a case-by-case basis. The nation needs to draw a line on how far it is willing to go with capital punishment. That line should be drawn at 18.


The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA)