Advocates for young people across the nation won a
huge victory with the U.S. Supreme Court’s March 1 ruling
that declared the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional.
"The Supreme Court's decision confirms what we've
known for some time: executing juveniles is unjust and inhumane," said
Michael Faenza, president and CEO of NMHA." Youth are different
from adults. . . . Most juvenile offenders on death row have suffered
extreme abuse and neglect. They cannot—and now will not—be
held to the same standards of culpability."
The Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Christopher Simmons,
which upheld the Missouri Supreme Court ruling that imposing the
death penalty on Simmons, a 17-year-old at the time of his crime,
violated the Eighth Constitutional Amendment prohibiting "cruel
and unusual punishment."
|"Once juveniles' diminished culpability
is recognized, it is evident that neither . . . justifications
for the death penalty - retribution and deterrence of
capital crimes by prospective offenders- provides adequate
justification for imposing that penalty on juveniles."
- Roper, Supt., Potosi v. Simmons, Christopher, 1 Mar 2005
In 12 states across the nation, 73 people will be
taken off death row as a result of the court's decision. NMHA has
worked tirelessly for years with the American Bar Association’s
Juvenile Law Center and a long list of other advocates
to fight against the juvenile death penalty, a practice that NMHA
believes has only served to demean our justice system. Over the
past five years, NMHA has fought vigourously alongside state
advocates to help win stays of executions for juvenile offenders.
NMHA also joined the nation’s leading medical
year, including the American Medical Association, in a friend-of
the- court brief submitted to the Supreme Court calling to ban the
execution of juvenile offenders who commit capital crimes.
In the past decade, the United
States has executed more
offenders of juvenile crime than
the rest of the world’s nations
combined. NMHA lauds the
Supreme Court decision to ban
this archaic practice.
For more information or
perspective on the juvenile
death penalty, please visit