|Young Offender (by Iaihiu)|
Pennsylvania is poised to sentence a thirteen-year old boy to life in prison for a crime he is accused of committing back when he was only 11 years old. If convicted and if he does receive this sentence, it would make him the youngest person ever to receive a life sentence in the U.S. and the youngest person serving a life sentence in the entire world.
The youth, Jordan Brown, is accused of shooting the fiancée of his father out of jealousy. She was eight and a half months pregnant. Psychiatrist Dr. John O’Brian claimed that Brown was not a good candidate for rehabilitation as he expressed no remorse nor accepted any responsibility. Consequently, the judge refused to send the case to the juvenile courts (in Pennsylvania, all murder suspects are automatically tried as adults unless the judge rules otherwise).
|Image by Tavisland|
The U.S. only recently banned the execution of minors in 2005. Prior to that, the U.S. was the leader in state killings of youth, responsible for four out of the six juvenile executions worldwide that occurred between 2002 and 2005 and 22 child executions since 1976. Before the 2005 decision, the U.S. was one of only six nations that executed minors, along with Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and China.
While it is certainly a step forward to ban the executions of minors (we are the only industrialized nation that still has a death penalty), we are still locking up record numbers of children and throwing away the key. According to Human Rights Watch, there are 2589 children serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole in the U.S. (the most of any nation in the world), 450 of whom are in Pennsylvania (the most of any state in the U.S.).
Joe Ligan was locked up for life in 1953, when he was 15. Today he is still in prison in Pennsylvania. His accomplices have either died or been released.