ACLU Applauds Governors of South Dakota and Wyoming For Signing Bans on the Death Penalty for Juveniles

March 3, 2004 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the governors of South Dakota and Wyoming, who both signed bills that ban the juvenile death penalty in their states. By doing so, their states became the 17th and 18th to ban the practice directly.

“The juvenile death penalty bans in South Dakota and Wyoming are further evidence of a national consensus that children are different and that they can be held accountable in the criminal justice system without facing execution,” said Diann Rust-Tierney, Director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project.

With the addition of South Dakota and Wyoming, 31 states now preclude juveniles from being executed, 12 of which ban the death penalty entirely.

Reflecting the legislative consensus, juries are returning fewer death sentences as well, Rust-Tierney noted. Last year only two juries in the nation imposed death sentences on juveniles. These actions reflect American’s opposition to the juvenile death penalty. According to a December 2003 Harris poll, 69 percent of Americans oppose the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

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