Kentucky Rules that Death Sentences for People Under 21 Are Unconstitutional
August 15, 2017 | From the field | Juvenile Justice
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A Kentucky circuit court judge ruled that death sentences for 18-, 19-, or 20-year-olds are cruel and unusual punishment. Testimony from Dr. Larry Steinberg, a leader of the MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice and Law and Neuroscience, informed the ruling, which takes into account Network research showing that the human brain has not fully matured until people are well into their 20s. In his ruling, the judge noted there is “very clear national consensus trending toward restricting the death penalty, especially in cases where defendants are 18 to 21 years of age.”