« Advocating for postpartum mental illness to be an express mitigating sentencing factor | Main | AG Sessions gives full accounting of his full law-and-order approach to his work as Attorney General »

February 6, 2018

ABA House of Delegates enacts resolution urging prohibition of death penalty's application to those under 21

Images (5)As reported in this ABA Journal posting, the "ABA House of Delegates on Monday asked all death penalty jurisdictions to ban capital punishment for any offender who committed their crime at the age of 21 or younger." Here is more:

In the report accompanying the resolution, the chairs of the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice wrote: “In light of this evolution of both the scientific and legal understanding surrounding young criminal defendants and broader changes to the death penalty landscape, it is now time for the ABA to revise its dated position and support the exclusion of individuals who were 21 years old or younger at the time of their crime.”

The language of Resolution 111 makes clear that the ABA is not taking a position “supporting or opposing the death penalty.”

In a motion to amend, Robert L. Weinberg, a past president of the District of Columbia Bar and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, proposed removing that language. He brought up a CLE session held earlier during this midyear meeting by Cassandra Stubbs of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project. “We stand almost alone among the progressive democracies in adhering to capital punishment,” he said....

Michael Byowitz, the Board of Governors’ liaison to the Death Penalty Due Process Review Project, rose to speak in opposition to Weinberg’s amendment.... Byowitz said marginal efforts chipping away at the use of the death penalty are the most effective ways of addressing the problem. “We will be ignored if we are perceived in many of the councils that matter as against the death penalty,” he said. “Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”...

The amendment was defeated in a divided vote. Resolution 111 was passed overwhelmingly.

The full Resolution and Report can be accessed at this link.  The report runs a dozen pages and concludes this way:

In the decades since the ABA adopted its policy opposing capital punishment for individuals under the age of 18, legal, scientific and societial developments strip the continued application of the death penalty against individuals in late adolescence of its moral or constitutional justification.  The rationale supporting the bans on executing either juveniles, as advanced in Roper v. Simmons, or individuals with intellectual disabilities, as set forth in Atkins v. Virginia, also apply to offenders who are 21 years old or younger when they commit their crimes.  Thus, this policy proposes a practical limitation based on age that is supported by science, tracks many other areas of our civil and criminal law, and will succeed in making the administration of the death penalty fairer and more proportional to both the crimes and the offenders.

In adopting this revised position, the ABA still acknowledges the need to impose serious and severe punishment on these individuals when they take the life of another person.  Yet at the same time, this policy makes clear our recognition that individuals in late adolescence, in light of their ongoing neurological development, are not among the worst of the worst offenders, for whom the death penalty must be reserved.

February 6, 2018 at 10:33 PM | Permalink


Why should anyone care what the ABA says? Isn't the ABA the organization that gave Cornelia Pillard a unanimous WQ rating, and she got clown-suited in DC v. Wesby?

Or Kim McLane Wardlaw--rated Q, but has eaten five, count 'em 5 per curiam reversals by opinion in her career.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 7, 2018 8:14:18 AM

I thought frontal lobe myelination ended at 25. I thought 90 year old people are more mature than 40 year old ones.

When looking at reality, adolescents out perform adults in every way. They are superior people. That superiority includes morality, since they have lower rates of violent crime.

Add the age of culpability to the list of fictitious doctrines believed by the lawyer profession, from its indoctrination into its criminal cult enterprise. These doctrines are as ridiculous as that of college educated people who killed themselves to be propelled unto a spaceship trailing a passing comet.


That false belief killed dozens. The false beliefs of the lawyer profession have killed millions, including millions of viable babies in the womb, who did nothing wrong to anyone.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 7, 2018 12:17:49 PM

His frontal lobes were not fully myelinated.


Posted by: David Behar | Feb 11, 2018 12:57:52 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB