Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, March 2, 2005 6:13 am

The right call

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 6:13 am

The Supreme Court has banned execution of minors, and frankly, there’s not a lot to hate about this decision no matter where you fall on the spectrum of opinion re the death penalty.

If you oppose the death penalty in its entirety, this is a major step in the direction of your goal, even if it doesn’t make additional steps inevitable (which it doesn’t). If, like me, you believe the death penalty is appropriate in certain cases, the elimination of executing minors as an issue makes it easier to focus attention on the cases in which execution isn’t just appropriate, it’s almost cried-out-for by humanity’s collective sense of justice and morality (say, for those surviving members of al-Qaeda involved in planning the 9/11 terror attacks).

And it just makes intuitive sense. We know that the brain structures and psyches and emotions of children and teens function vastly differently from those of full-grown adults. We wisely cordon off certain adult privileges from younger people for that very reason, although we’re not completely consistent about doing so. Barring the execution of minors doesn’t mean minors won’t be punished. It simply means that a juvenile killer might well live long enough to grasp and regret the consequences of his action in truly adult fashion, even if he’ll never have the chance to atone in the outside world. In most cases, he won’t have the chance to threaten anyone else, either.

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