Revisiting the Death Penalty for Juveniles

Jefferson Ingram, University of Dayton
Michael A. Payne, University of Dayton

With the granting of certiorari for the case of Simmons v. Roper, Superintendent, by the Supreme Court of the United States, the issue of when a person who was a juvenile at the time of committing a state capital offense may receive the death penalty has effectively been reopened. By deciding Simmons squarely on Eighth Amendment grounds, the Supreme Court of Missouri has challenged the Supreme Court of the United States to follow its lead in recognizing a new standard under the Trop v. Duilles 'evolving standards of decency' analysis. The determination of whether the nation has collectively moved forward to a new level of civilization or continues where it was in the days of Stanford v. Kentucky remains to be seen. The Court may follow the Supreme Court of Missouri but it should revisit the evolving standards of decency and redefine it or reject it all together.

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Updated 05/20/2006