The Honolulu Advertiser

July 25, 2004


Now, here’s a question:

What do the nations of China, Congo, Iran, Pakistan and the United States have in common?

The answer is these are the only four known countries in the world that allow the execution of juveniles for capital crimes.

The human rights records of China, Congo, Iran and Pakistan are well known. Why is it that the United States would wish to join this list?

The truth is that for the most part the United States has separated itself from the handful of nations that execute the young for capital crimes.

The federal government and 31 states have abolished the youth death penalty .

But under our system of government, those remaining states that choose to execute youthful offenders are free to do so, unless the penalty is found unconstitutional.

Which is precisely what is before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case arising out of a Missouri incident in which a 17-year-old was convicted of deliberately drowning a woman.

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that execution of mentally retarded individuals is unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment.

The same should apply to the execution of youthful individuals who commit crimes, however heinous.


The Honolulu Advertiser