The Death Penalty and Juveniles: A Socio-Historical Analysis, 1642-2001

Justin Galt, University of California - Riverside

This paper will examine juvenile executions in the United States throughout its history, especially looking at socio-historical trends. Historic era, geographic region, race of offender, sex of offender, and reason for execution were hypothesized to influence the rate of juvenile executions. In addition, significant interactive effects between race of offender and several other variables were predicted. Various juvenile justice reforms were hypothesized to influence the rate of white juvenile executions, but not African-American juvenile executions. Multiple sources of data were utilized in looking at juvenile executions through American history. Significant results were found for crosstabulations between race of offender and the following variables: decade of execution, region of execution, and reason for execution. Specifically, African-American juveniles witnessed extremely disparate rates of execution compared to white juveniles between 1890 and 1959, in the South, and for the crime of rape. With the exception of the Progressive juvenile justice reform movement (c. 1880-1920), juvenile justice reforms have had little impact on white juvnile execution rates.

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Updated 05/20/2006