High Court Case Highlights Death Penalty for Juveniles

JULY 19, 2004 - Posted at 5:05 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A U.S. Supreme Court case involving executions of criminals who committed crimes as juveniles could affect Arkansas law.

The case has focused worldwide attention on a practice some world leaders say violates the minimum standards of human rights.

The high court has agreed to hear a case from Missouri, where the state Supreme Court declared juvenile executions unconstitutional last year.

Arkansas is among the American states where convicts who killed as juveniles can be executed.  In Arkansas, convicts who were as young as 14 when the capital crime occured can be put to death.

In 2001 and again last year, the Arkansas Legislature rejected changes in current law.

The only other sentence for a capital crime in Arkansas is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)