The Marshall Project

The Right Age to Die?

Some see science outpacing the High Court on juveniles and the death penalty

When 15-year-old Luis Cruz joined the Latin Kings in 1991, he was a child by almost any measure: he couldn’t legally drive, drop out of school, or buy a beer. But was he still a child a few years later when — just months after he turned 18 — he murdered two people on the orders of gang leaders?

Earlier this year, a federal judge in Connecticut said . The judge decided that a that forbade mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles should apply to 18-year-olds like Cruz, and granted his request to be resentenced. It’s one of a small but growing number of cases in which courts are grappling with what to do with young adults who commit the most serious crimes.

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