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Roper v. Simmons

Argued October 13, 2004
Decided March 1, 2005



Camille, zoé & charlotte



The Simmons case began in Missouri in 1993. Christopher Simmons, who was 17 years old, hatched a plan to murder a woman named Shirley Crook. He involved two younger friends, Charles Benjamin and John Tessmer, in the plan. They planned to break into Crook's house, steal items, tie Crook up and throw her off a bridge. Tessmer abandoned the plan at the last minute. However, Simmons and Benjamin broke into Crook's house, drove her to a state park and threw her off a bridge.

Is execution of juveniles under 18 prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments ?




I. Prior to Roper v. Simmons

II. Development of the case

III. Impact of the decision


I. Prior to Roper v. Simmons : a national consensus on the junevile death penalty


of countries
still have the death penalty



The death penalty in the United States is carried out at the federal level, by the military justice system, and in 26 of the country's 50 states.


Simmons and his friend kill Shirley Crook by throwing her tied up alive into a river

Thompson v. Oklahoma : the Supreme Court had prohibited the execution of criminals under the age of 16 at the time of the crime.

Roper v. Simmons

Atkins v. Virginia : had banned capital punishment for the mentally disabled.

Stanford v. Kentucky : The Supreme Court has authorised the execution of those over 16 years of age
+ Penry v. Lynaugh : it is constitutional to execute the mentally disabled







II. Development of the case


5-4 VOTE

  • Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined

  • Concurring opinion : Justice Stevens, Justice Ginsburg

  • Dissenting opinion : Justice O’Connor, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Chief Justice Rehnquist


8th amendment

14th amendment

Eighth Amendment

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Thirteenth Amendment

Section 1

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

“When a juvenile offender commits a heinous crime, the state can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic liberties, but the state cannot extinguish his life and his potential to attain a mature understanding of his own humanity [...]
From a moral standpoint, it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s character deficiencies will be reformed.”

Justice Kennedy

  • Minors are not as mature as adults
    • Teenagers are more reckless and more likely to make decisions without thinking about them ;
    • Teenagers have less control over their behaviour ;
    • Teens are more likely to do things because of peer pressure, not because they want to ;
  • The Court looked at what other countries around the world have done. They wrote that :
    • Only 7 countries other than the US have executed juvenile offenders: Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and China - since 1990, each of these 7 countries has stopped using the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The USA was the only country in the world to execute juvenile offenders


III. impact of the decision

This is a prison sentence given to a convicted defendant in which they will remain in prison for their entire life and will not have the ability to a conditional release before they complete this sentence.

Imprisonment without parole :

The SCOTUS declared unconstitutional mandatory sentences of life imprisonment without parole for juvenile offenders. Judges need to be free to give lower sentences.

Graham v. Florida

Miller v. Alabama

The SCOTUS declared it unconstitutional to condemn a juvenile to life imprisonment without parole for non-homicide offenses.

2012 -

- 2010

States that have banned or limited the use of juvenile life without parole sentences



The case of France


Thank you for listening!

Why do you think the death penalty is such a controversial issue in the world ?


Camille, Zoé & Charlotte