Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Unconstitutionally Cruel

The United States was one of the last western nations to execute juveniles. The U.S. Surpreme Court changed all that this morning.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.

The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.

It was the second major defeat at the high court in three years for supporters of the death penalty. Justices in 2002 banned the execution of the mentally retarded, also citing the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

The court had already outlawed executions for those who were 15 and younger when they committed their crimes.

Tuesday's ruling prevents states from making 16- and 17-year-olds eligible for execution.


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