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William Fullam Juvenile Justice Professor Poulsen May 29, 2011

Supreme Court Rulings in Juvenile Justice


In 1692, was the first execution of an American juvenile, since then 38 states and the federal government have sentenced over three hundred juveniles to capital punishment. However, since then there have been many drastic revisions to juvenile justice and the treatment of the juveniles themselves. Ex Parte Crouse, in 1839, in the state of Pennsylvania, the state ruled that juvenile authorities have considerable power over the parents in the management and control of their own children. This denied children any legal standing in challenging the decisions of the courts. Truancy was included in the classification of juvenile offences in 1852. There it was children must attend school. This first came to be in the state of Massachusetts then followed by Colorado, by 1918, all jurisdictions had some sort of school attendance provisions. In 1899, the state of Illinois established the juvenile court system, separately from the adult court. Its intended purpose was to keep the harsh punishments of the adults away from the juveniles, while finding treatment and rehabilitation for the juvenile offender. In the early beginning of the criminal justice system, there have been revisions in the rehabilitation of juveniles. Some forms of treatment were labor camps and reform schools, these programs designed to help juveniles make reparations for their crimes and get an education did not work for the rehabilitation efforts that the government was trying to enforce.

In 1967, the case In re Gault, places a 15-year-old boy in juvenile detention for up to six years based on hearsay evidence. In addition, the young boy was not afforded his rights as a U.S. citizen. The U.S. Supreme court reversed the decision based on the violation of his rights as described in the Bill of Rights. It was a remarkable time for the criminal justice system as a whole and especially for the juvenile justice system. Starting in 1926, the federal government has kept data on juveniles and their adjudications. This information contains such information as age, gender, charges, address, and other pertinent information of the person and the case itself. In 1975, the office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention had taken over the job in overseeing the management of the data. This data has helped in the tracking of the growth in juvenile crime and the severity of it. In 1974, the U.S. Congress passed the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. This Act created due to the growing number of juvenile criminal incidences. We can see by the media representation and statistics juvenile crime is getting more violent. The youths are carrying guns and are not afraid to use them. The first juvenile court led to a system that held juveniles accountable for delinquent behavior while providing developmentally appropriate rehabilitation and deterrence programs. After 1970, however, a shift toward more stringent punishment of juvenile offenders occurred. Of the 362 juvenile executions in the United States, 18 have occurred in the modern death penalty era, from 1973 to 2001, comprising 2.4% of the 749 total executions during this period. Politically popular federal and local measures implemented in the adult criminal justice system, such as the three strikes and sexual predator laws, abolishment of parole, and imposition of mandatory prison sentences, have increasingly been considered for the juvenile system. In addition, in the past decade, a greater percentage of juvenile offenders have

been transferred to criminal court jurisdiction. (Child Welfare League of America, John A.Tuell). September 1997, Kevin G. 17 years old, and his brother Timon, 19 years old rob a man at gunpoint in Kingstree South Carolina. They both steal a car and are diving away heading north on the highway. State Police pull the vehicle over for a minor traffic violation. As the officer calls in the license number, it is reported stolen. The officer then calls for back up and when the officers proceed on to the car they are brutally shot with a semi-automatic rifle. The youngest boy Kevin then takes the officers handgun, shoots both officers at point blank range, and kills them. The boys are captured and received the death penalty. http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/creech/050307 October 2002, The Beltway Sniper, John Lee Malvo age 17. Malvo, arrested for the mass murders over a three-week period in the Washington D.C. area. The boy claimed that he was brainwashed and was going to get ransom money to start an all black colony of kids in Canada. Malvo charged with the murder of one of the victims an F.B.I. agent named Linda Franklin, additionally charged with the unlawful use of a firearm in the commission of the murder. On December 18, 2003, the jury found Malvo guilty and recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Three months later the judge formally sentenced him to life without parole. On October 26, 2004, Malvo plea-bargained, to escape the death penalty, to two more murders and weapons charges. He was giving life without parole plus eight years for the weapons charges. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Boyd_Malvo

Darious Mays was convicted of first-degree murder with a lying-in-wait special circumstance and personal firearm discharge enhancement in the killing of Sheppard Scott while Scott and his girlfriend were waiting in their car to order food at a Jack in the Box drive-through. Scott told his girlfriend one of two guys standing in front of an adjacent AM/PM mini mart had insulted him with a racial slur when they drove in. Scott walked over and confronted the two men. As Scott walked back to his car, his girlfriend saw one of the men, wearing an orange Orioles jacket, pass something to the other man who was dressed in a hooded gray sweatshirt. After the couple collected their ordered food and drove to the exit, someone yelled; Hey, homie. The man in the gray sweatshirt walked toward them as Scott stopped his car, telling him he wished to apologize. The man extended his hand as if to shake hands. When Scott did the same, the man pulled a gun and shot Scott six times at close range, killing him. (www.teenkillers.org). What all these killers have in common is that they were all under the age of eighteen when they committed their crimes. Not all these juveniles got the death penalty but, in March 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to outlaw the death penalty for juveniles who were under the age of eighteen at the time they committed their crimes, calling the execution of children unconstitutionally cruel. The ruling continues the courts practice of narrowing the scope of the death penalty, which justices reinstated in 1976. The court in 1988 outlawed executions for those fifteen and younger when they committed their crimes. In 2002, the U.S. Supreme court banned executions of the mentally retarded. In another landmark decision the Supreme Court ruled in March 2010, ending life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide. This is a tremendous overhaul of the juvenile justice system being that there are over 250 juveniles in the state of California alone, serving life without the possibility of parole, most

are severe, violent criminals. http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/05/us_supreme_court_ends_life_sen.html

This is where I bring up the case of John Malvo, a young boy the age of 17 when he committed his crimes, now serving life without parole for the murder of three people. The prosecutor refused to press further charges due to the reversal of the death penalty for juveniles in 2005. Now the court, faced with having to resentence a young man for the murders he admitted doing. I do believe in the culpability of a juvenile but, in the above cases it is shown in the brutality and the thoughtlessness of these heinous crimes that these people did know exactly what they were doing. I believe this will have an immense negative impact on the juveniles of our society. vIt will bring the idea that they can commit crimes against humanity and not have to pay to dear a price. There is a shortage on funding of rehabilitative programs already and now to have to try to rehabilitate a major juvenile criminal with a high-risk recidivism. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a blistering dissent to the court's ruling, saying that the court has gone too far in this decision, which he predicts will "embroil the courts" for years because of its lack of guidance. Justice Clarence Thomas said, 129 convicts spread across 11 states and federal courts shows that life terms for juveniles is already a rarity reserved only for the most brutal crimes. I am unwilling to assume that we, as members of this court, are any more capable of making such moral judgments than our fellow citizens, never before today has the court relied on its own view of just deserts to impose a categorical limit on the imposition of a lesser punishment."

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/05/us_supreme_court_ends_life_sen.html http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/creech/050307 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Boyd_Malvo http://www.teenkillers.org/index.php/juvenile-lifers/offenders-cases-state/individual-offenderprofiles/sacramento-county/ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/us/08juveniles.html http://www.cwla.org/programs/juvenilejustice/juveniledeathpenalty.pdf Child Welfare League of America, Juvenile Offenders and the Death Penalty: Is Justice Served? (2004)