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Neuroscience and Death as a Penalty for Late Adolescents


This paper briefly describes the issues surrounding death as a penalty as applied to the late adolescent class, individuals ages 18 years through 20 years, in the USA. A neuroscience perspective is provided that is keyed to the issues decided by the US Supreme Court in 2005 in their decision in Roper v. Simmons to ban the application of death as a penalty to persons under the age of 18. Reviews of the issues and summaries of current science are provided as an introduction to the remaining papers of this special issue of the Journal of Pediatric Neuropsychology. We also provide our own conclusion that current neuroscience, when considered in the context of the Supreme Court’s logic in Roper v. Simmons, supports ending death as a penalty for persons who commit capital crimes prior to the age of 21.

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Correspondence to Robert J. McCaffrey.

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This article is part of the Special Issue: Law, Neuroscience, and Death as a Penalty for the Late Adolescent Class; Dr. Robert Leark, Guest Editor.

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McCaffrey, R.J., Reynolds, C.R. Neuroscience and Death as a Penalty for Late Adolescents. J Pediatr Neuropsychol 7, 3–8 (2021).

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  • Death penalty
  • Adolescence
  • Law and neuroscience