Roper vs Simmons

The Opinion In the case of Roper vs. Simmons, the basis of the supreme courts opinion was founded on the principals of several arguments established in a number of cases in previous years. The opinion of the courts was to go with the national consensus that the death penalty for juvenile offenders was cruel and unusual punishment. The cases of Stanford vs. Kentucky, Atkins vs. Virginia and Thomas vs. Oklahoma are a few cases all involving juveniles and the sentencing structure as well as whether or not juveniles (primarily those between 15 and 18 years of age) should be sentenced to death where the executions of juveniles under the age of sixteen was banned, opening a provisional pathway for juveniles above the age of sixteen to suffer execution. Roper vs. Simmons however, broke the paradigm and the ruling was changed. Within the criminal justice arena, youth are more likely to benefit when lawmakers acknowledge the restrictions of their decision-making capability. When the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the juvenile death penalty in Roper v. Simmons, it was based in part on an observation of adolescents as less mature and therefore less liable than adults. “The plurality opinion explained that no death penalty State that had given express consideration to a minimum age for the death penalty had set the age lower than 16.... The plurality also observed that [t]he conclusion that it would offend civilized standards of decency to execute a person who was less than 16 years old at the time of his or her offense is consistent

with the views that have been expressed by respected professional organizations, by other nations that share our Anglo-American heritage, and by the leading members of the Western European community.... The opinion further noted that juries imposed the death penalty on offenders under 16 with exceeding rarity; the last execution of an offender for a crime committed under the age of 16 had been carried out in 1948, 40 years prior”,