Penny L. Brown
 

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       When Penny Brown, a well-known and respected nurse-midwife, was brutally raped and then strangled to death on Mother's Day of 1999, her family, friends, colleagues and community of Salamanca, NY were devastated.  Devastation turned to despair when her 15-year-old killer received only nine years to life in prison, the maximum sentence allowed for brutally ending Penny's life.  Penny's killer, Edward Kindt, could be free to rape, brutalize, and murder again less than five years. 

         Frustration and anger over this cruel injustice became a grass-roots campaign to change the juvenile sentencing law for murder in June of 2000.  "Penny's Law," New York State Assembly Bill #A.1628, named for Penny Brown, was then drafted. "Penny's Law" originally sought to eliminate the sentencing distinction between juveniles and adults for juveniles who are convicted of murder as adults.  In other words, while juveniles can be "tried" as adults for murder, they still must be sentenced using juvenile guidelines in New York State.  "Penny's Law" was originally drafted to ensure that those young killers who are "tried" as adults for committing cold-blooded murder would also be eligible for the adult sentence. 

           Originally, "Penny's Law" sought to increase the sentencing range from the current five years to life- nine years to life, to a proposed range of fifteen years to life to twenty-five years to life (the adult murder sentence).  The original bill would have held 13, 14, and 15 year olds, who are tried as adults with murder, criminally responsible and made them eligible for the adult murder sentence.  Despite overwhelming bipartisan support from throughout the state, many of the Downstate Democrats (including some of the members of the Assembly leadership) strongly opposed "Penny's Law," and so the bill sat dormant in the Codes Committee of the Assembly.  Proponents of "Penny's Law" decided that some progress with the juvenile sentencing law for murder would be better than none, and so in April of 2003- with the help of some of the cautiously supportive Democratic members of the Assembly, a compromised version of "Penny's Law" was successfully passed through both houses.  The version passed authorizes the minimum sentence for a 14 or 15 year old killer who is convicted as an adult to be between 7 and a half to 15 years, instead of the current 5 to 9.   The compromised bill falls significantly short of the 15-25 year sentence "Penny's Law" proposed, and will not affect 13-year old killers, who will still be sentenced under the old guidelines.  Although "Penny's Law" supporters are pleased, many are not content, and a further increase in juvenile murder sentencing will likely be pursued.  

 

 

"Rape is rape. Murder is murder. Youth is no excuse for either"

 

   Last Updated
 01/03/2009 06:43:21 AM

 

 
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