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Death Penalty for Juveniles Is it Right In October 1989 a month after turning seventeen Dwayne Wright went on a violent crime spree that lead to a robbery attempted rape and shooting of thirty-three year old Saba Tekle When caught the next day Dwayne confessed to the police and was tried in 1991 Before this crime Dwayne grew up in a poor family and lived in a deprived neighborhood He was exposed to criminal drug activities along with witnessing habitual gun violence and murder At the age of four Dwaynes father died in prison and his mother suffered from mental illness She was often unemployed for extensive amounts of time At the age of ten his half-brother was murdered leading to eventual serious emotional problems Dwayne was treated for major depression with psychotic episodes Not only was his mental capacity evaluated as borderline retarded but his verbal ability was retarded and doctors found signs of organic brain damage At the sentencing phase of his trial the defense accepted the courts nomination of a clinical psychologist to present evidence in mitigation On close examination the defense lawyer learned that the psychologist was the author of a study which concluded that mental illness and environment are not responsible for people committing crimes The prosecutor argued that this random killer Dwayne should die for his crimes Thus Dwayne was the first juvenile offender put to death in Virginia in over sixty-five years He was executed on October 21 1998 Back to the Future This case and many more are some of the reasons why the death penalty should not be allowed for juveniles In the United States today twenty-five states allow the execution of juveniles twenty-one states have set the minimum age for execution at sixteen and four states at seventeen Potter The US makes no
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