Issue in Question
Whether the execution of a person who was 17 years old when he executed a murder is prohibited under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments because it would be a “cruel and inhumane” penalty.
The plaintiff in action is Donald P. Roper, who worked as a superintendent at Potosi correctional center. Respondent Simmons executed and planned out a murder-to-kill at the age of 17. He was given a death sentence after reaching the age of 18. His immediate appeal was denied, as were his later requests for state and federal post-conviction remedy. The Eighth Amendment, which is enforceable by the United States through the Fourteenth Amendment, was then declared by this Court to forbid the execution of a mentally retarded individual in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S 304 (Legal Information Institute, n.d.). Simmons submitted a renewed petition for state post-conviction remedy, saying that Atkins’ justification proved the Constitution forbade the execution of a child who committed the act while still under the age of 18. In order to decide whether the death sentence for young offenders is constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court granted consideration in this case. Simmons’ case was reconsidered by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2003, nine years after his incarceration (American Psychological Association, 2004). Simmons’ death penalty was overturned and replaced by a life sentence without the possibility of parole after the Missouri State Supreme Court concurred.
The Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments prohibit the execution of criminals who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offenses (Legal Information Institute, n.d.).
The U.S. Supreme Court held that execution of juvenile offenders who committed violent crimes while less than 18 is “cruel and unusual punishment” that is forbidden by the Eighth Amendment in a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in March 2005 (American Psychological Association, 2004).
Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Roper v. Simmons. Legal Information Institute. Web.
American Psychological Association. (2004). Roper v. Simmons. American Psychological Association. Web.