In February of 2009, a pregnant woman was shot and killed in her home by her fiancé’s 11-year-old son. The perpetrator, Jordan Brown, then proceeded to get on the school bus and went to class as usual. Brown is now being accused of two counts of murder, because not only did he kill his father’s fiancé, Kenzie Houk, but also her unborn child.
The lawyers for Brown are now trying to convince the Judge not to try Brown as an adult. Amnesty International has also voiced concerns about the implications of trying Brown as an adult. If the judge refuses to change his mind, Brown will be the youngest person in history to be tried as an adult.
Although the Supreme Court has eliminated the death penalty for individuals under 18 years of age, the United States is the only country in the world in which juveniles are serving life sentences without parole. The debate surrounding this issue in the next few weeks will be an interesting insight into the different arguments for and against trying children as adults.
If, however, children as young as 11 years old are eligible to be tried as adults, what does that say about our nation’s commitment to children? To addressing the deeper issue of why the child may have committed the crime? It seems like a band-aid solution to lock up the child, as opposed to using this opportunity to examine the context and potential reason this tragedy occurred in the first place. Although there is undoubtedly a need for the legal system to intervene in Brown’s case, perhaps there is an equal urgency for doctors, psychiatrists and therapists to get involved.
Lastly, why is the age of majority codified in our laws as being 18 years old if a judge can arbitrarily lower it by almost a decade?