Law: Bad News for Death Row

The court okays the execution of teenage and retarded criminals

Few issues touch as deep a nerve in the nation's psyche as questions surrounding capital punishment. Thus reaction across the country last week was swift and in some quarters downright horrified when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that crimes by some juveniles and mentally retarded people may be punishable by death. By a 5-to-4 vote, the high court ruled in a pair of decisions that the constitutional ban on "cruel and unusual punishments" does not forbid the execution of youths who commit crimes at 16 or 17 years of age, nor does it automatically prohibit death sentences for the retarded. "By...

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