Somewhere in the wet, cold hills of rural Pittsburgh, 11-year-old Jordan Brown got on the school bus Friday morning and his life would never be the same. At 11 years old, his biggest worries in life should be what’s for lunch in the school cafeteria or weather Patty in the front row likes him. But for Jordan, the worries of adulthood came like rapid fire this week, like the quick, BANG, BANG, BANG,of the 20-gauge “youth” size shotgun that police say he used to kill his Dad’s pregnant girlfriend, 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk.
This case is a tragedy in every respect. What brings an 11-year-old boy to such a level of frustration that his only recourse is to grab a shotgun? At 11, his voice is barely changing. At 11, he cannot yet delay gratification nor manage anger. At 11, where did he learn that murder is acceptable retribution for any problem, no matter how severe? At 11, why did his Dad buy him his own shotgun……..and not teach him the responsibility that goes with such a deadly weapon? At 11, he cannot vote, drive, smoke or drink legally, or carry a weapon for his country. However, in Pennsylvania, he can be charged with double homicide, for the deaths of the woman and her fetus, as an adult? There is just so much wrong with this picture.
Pennsylvania reportedly has more children in prison than any other state in the union, convicted felons, some of them killers, serving sentences of life without parole……….children…….in prison. That is a crime!
For more than 30 years, Pennsylvania has been sending juvenile offenders to prison for life without parole. In 1972, lawmakers changed the state’s Juvenile Delinquency Act, deeming that kids charged with murder were criminally culpable to the same degree as adult offenders and thus should be tried in Adult Court. A juvenile of 16, maybe, but a juvenile of 11, I just don’t know. Can we paint the maturity and capacity of every child with such a broad brush that they should all wind up facing an adult judicial system? Where is the jury of their peers? Why not charge the adults who let them down, charge them with neglect? Why not charge the lawmakers who say juvenile shotguns in Pennsylvania do not have to be registered weapons? Why not charge the gun manufacturers who make guns meant for use by children?
I am not saying that Jordan should get a free pass and a slap on the wrist but I do not think he should be charged as an adult. Get him the help he has obviously needed for a very long time.
The true details of what happened in that Pennsylvania farmhouse have yet to come out. As the events unfold, maybe we will understand the crime but I will never understand why a child should do the time.