See Appendixes B-D, , at 115 ("[Y]outh is more than a chronological fact.It is a time and condition of life when a person may be most susceptible to influence and to psychological damage").After less than two hours of interrogation, Simmons confessed to the murder and agreed to perform a videotaped reenactment at the crime scene. The State called Shirley Crook's husband, daughter, and two sisters, who presented moving evidence of the devastation her death had brought to their lives. Quite the contrary." The jury recommended the death penalty after finding the State had proved each of the three aggravating factors submitted to it.The State charged Simmons with burglary, kidnaping, stealing, and murder in the first degree. In mitigation Simmons' attorneys first called an officer of the Missouri juvenile justice system, who testified that Simmons had no prior convictions and that no previous charges had been filed against him. Accepting the jury's recommendation, the trial judge imposed the death penalty. The Eighth Amendment provides: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The provision is applicable to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.This is explained in part by the prevailing circumstance that juveniles have less control, or less experience with control, over their own environment.See Steinberg & Scott, Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty, 58 Am. (b) Both objective indicia of consensus, as expressed in particular by the enactments of legislatures that have addressed the question, and the Court's own determination in the exercise of its independent judgment, demonstrate that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for juveniles. Moreover, even in the 20 States without a formal prohibition, the execution of juveniles is infrequent. (1) As in , the objective indicia of national consensus here--the rejection of the juvenile death penalty in the majority of States; the infrequency of its use even where it remains on the books; and the consistency in the trend toward abolition of the practice--provide sufficient evidence that today society views juveniles, in the words used respecting the mentally retarded, as "categorically less culpable than the average criminal," 536 U. The evidence of such consensus is similar, and in some respects parallel, to the evidence in 30 States prohibit the juvenile death penalty, including 12 that have rejected it altogether and 18 that maintain it but, by express provision or judicial interpretation, exclude juveniles from its reach.
Simmons' mother, in particular, testified to the responsibility Simmons demonstrated in taking care of his two younger half brothers and of his grandmother and to his capacity to show love for them. One argument was that Simmons had received ineffective assistance at trial. The right flows from the basic " 'precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to [the] offense.' " 217 U. The prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishments," like other expansive language in the Constitution, must be interpreted according to its text, by considering history, tradition, and precedent, and with due regard for its purpose and function in the constitutional design. The beginning point is a review of objective indicia of consensus, as expressed in particular by the enactments of legislatures that have addressed the question. We then must determine, in the exercise of our own independent judgment, whether the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for juveniles.On the same afternoon fishermen recovered the victim's body from the river. The defense called no witnesses in the guilt phase.Simmons, meanwhile, was bragging about the killing, telling friends he had killed a woman "because the bitch seen my face." The next day, after receiving information of Simmons' involvement, police arrested him at his high school and took him to the police station in Fenton, Missouri. Simmons waived his right to an attorney and agreed to answer questions. The jury having returned a verdict of murder, the trial proceeded to the penalty phase. As aggravating factors, the State submitted that the murder was committed for the purpose of receiving money; was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing lawful arrest of the defendant; and involved depravity of mind and was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman.Indeed, "[t]he relevance of youth as a mitigating factor derives from the fact that the signature qualities of youth are transient; as individuals mature, the impetuousness and recklessness that may dominate in younger years can subside." at 368; see also Steinberg & Scott 1014 ("For most teens, [risky or antisocial] behaviors are fleeting; they cease with maturity as individual identity becomes settled.Only a relatively small proportion of adolescents who experiment in risky or illegal activities develop entrenched patterns of problem behavior that persist into adulthood"). We conclude the same reasoning applies to all juvenile offenders under 18.