In Chapter 10 there was a short side note about Lee Malvo who was seventeen when he participated in the Washington, DC, sniper killings in October 2002 and other various killings that resulted in 42 shootings. He was the accomplice of his mentor John A. Muhammad. Some argued that for his wrong doings Malvo should be sent to death row because the United States does permit the execution of juveniles as young as 16 years old. On the other hand, some felt that because he was only seventeen he should get a less severe punishment.
An article about Lee Malvo called "Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence" states that, "emerging knowledge about cognitive, psychosocial, and neurobiological development in adolescence supports the conclusion that juveniles should not be held to the same standards of criminal responsibility as adults" (1010). Teenagers are more vulnerable to the influence of others and their identity is still forming. The article also points out that teenager's attitude towards risk is different from adults in that teenagers are more likely to take bigger risks. Despite these arguments, it has also been argued that teenager's cognitive capacities are actually closer to adults than was previously thought.
Ultimately Malvo receive a sentence of life in prison while John A. Muhammad received the death penalty. Along with the argued reasons for treating adolescents less severely than adults, another possible reason why Malvo did not receive the death penalty could have been because his sentencing occurred two days before Christmas. This could have possibly caused the jury to feel more willing to spare the life of murderer. It has been argued that if the sentencing had taken place two days after Christmas Malvo would be sitting on death row.
So the question is: do adolescents deserve less punishment because they are not adults?