Locals React to Death Penalty Change

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The nation's highest court has ruled the death penalty is unconstitutional for those who were under 18 when they committed their crime.

Lauderdale County's district attorney said before the ruling a jury made that decision based on each individual case, but Bilbo Mitchell said this is one more thing the government has taken away from the citizens.

"The thing that makes the ruling unnecessary is that the defendants have so many rights because everything is considered by the jury," said Mitchell.

Statewide, Mitchell says the ruling effects five individuals in Mississippi but none convicted in Lauderdale County.

Maj. Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department says the ruling is unfortunate.

"I think this ruling is not helpful to the law enforcement community and they will continue to pay the price," Calhoun said.

Calhoun said it would have been different if justices had left the decision up to each state.

"I hate to see the Supreme Court is taking the authority away from states to govern their own laws," said Calhoun.

Some say juvenile offenders are different because their character is not as well formed as that of an adult, but others say that is not so."

"There are many 15-year-olds that know what they are doing. I have an 11-year-old son and he knows right and wrong. Teenagers should have to suffer just like an adult. This arbitrary age is not an argument," Calhoun said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 in favor of the decision. The court's majority says it acknowledged the weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty.