Litigant Toolkit

The Science

The Law

• The human brain continues to develop well into young adulthood.

• Teenagers and young adults are especially likely to make risky decisions because of their stage of brain development.

• Teenagers and young adults often don’t understand the full consequences of their actions.

• Young first-time offenders are less likely to commit crimes again.

• In 2005, The U.S. Supreme Court banned the death penalty for people under age 18 in the case Roper v. Simmons, but young adults older than 18 are still eligible for capital punishment.

• As of April 2023, 27 states and the District of Columbia banned sentencing people under age 18 to life without parole.

• In the case Graham v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court banned sentencing juveniles to life without the possibility of parole for any crime except homicide. It is still available for homicide cases and for young adults over age 18.

Resources for . . .

Writing a Brief

Learning About the Brain and the Law

Telling Your Lawyer About Youth Brain Development and the Law