Up until the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in Roper v. Simmons, juveniles could constitutionally be executed for qualifying criminal offenses. The Roper Court raised the minimum age for execution to eighteen, citing both a national consensus against executing minors, as well as recent research (at the time) showing that juveniles are more vulnerable to negative influences and outside pressures. Since Roper, the Supreme Court has remained silent regarding the requisite minimum age for execution and has left the decision up to individual states. While a slim majority of states have now abolished the death penalty in its entirety, Kentucky chose to retain the death penalty, but prohibit its use for offenders under the age of twenty-one. This Note proposes that Ohio, like Kentucky, raise the minimum eligibility age for execution. However, Ohio should raise the minimum age to twenty-five. As this Note will explore, compelling reasons exist for Ohio to raise the execution age to twenty-five. Most notably is the recent scientific research that the brain does not fully mature until the age of twenty-five. Additionally, there have been evolving standards of decency shifting public opinion away from the death penalty, national and international policies denouncing the use of the death penalty on youthful offenders, and case law supporting additional safeguards against less culpable offenders. This Note culminates in the proposal of an original statute to aid the Ohio legislature in amending the death penalty age requirement to twenty-five. To ensure that only the worst of the worst offenders are deprived of a second chance at life, Ohio is urged to adopt a minimum eligibility age of twenty-five for the death penalty.
Capital Punishment of Young Adults in Light of Evolving Standards of Science and Decency: Why Ohio Should Raise the Minimum Age for Death Penalty Eligibility to Twenty-Five (25),
70 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol70/iss1/7