“Penny’s Law” Hikes NY Penalties For Juveniles

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For the family of Penny Brown, a 39-year-old mother murdered on Mother’s Day 1999, watching her killer sentenced added anger, not comfort, to their ordeal, the Albany Times Union reports. Edward Kindt, 15, was tried as an adult for raping and murdering Brown near her Western New York home, but he was sentenced as a juvenile. He got the maximum, nine years to life, and Brown’s family began a mission to change juvenile sentencing for second-degree murder.

After four years of lobbying, Brown’s family watched yesterday as Gov. George Pataki signed Penny’s Law. The law raises the maximum sentence for 14- and 15-year-olds convicted of second-degree murder to 15 years to life. “Nine years in no way compensates for the life of a daughter,” said Brown’s father, Jerry Lockwood.

The new law isn’t so tough as Lockwood hoped, and Pataki said he would like to see juveniles sentenced as adults in second-degree murder cases. That would increase the maximum sentence to 25 years to life. “When you’re a 14- or 15-year-old and you commit a murder, you know what you’re doing and you know the consequences of that act,” Pataki said.

Opponents said the law could hurt the chances of rehabilitating offenders. “Given the terrible nature of these crimes, it’s understandable that people seek longer prison sentences,” said Robert Gangi of the Correctional Association of New York. “But it’s a misguided approach, especially for young people….All the research shows that juvenile offenders, even those charged with serious offenses, do better in juvenile facilities with appropriate programs.”

Link: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=153961&category=CAPITOL&BCCode=

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