Jordan Brown was just eleven when according to prosecutors he shot and killed 26-year-old Kenzie Houk as she slept in her home, near Pittsburgh, in February, 2009. Houk was pregnant with a nearly full-term child at the time.
Jordan was charged with two counts of homicide. When Jordan claimed he was innocent the judge decided to try him as an adult. Some news reports make it sound as if the evidence is quite strong against Jordan but some blog sites give quite a different story showing that the evidence is actually weak.
But even if he were guilty the sentence is regarded by many human rights groups as too harsh and even that a life sentence could violate international law.
Brown’s lawyers have argued that the judge’s decision to try Brown as an adult based upon his refusal to admit guilt violated his right to be presumed innocent and his right to avoid self-incrimination as well.
Susan Lee of Amnesty International said:”It is shocking that anyone this young could face life imprisonment without parole, let alone in a country which labels itself as a progressive force for human rights,” Amnesty noted that the U.S. is one of only two countries in the world to refuse to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The other country is Somalia!
Although Jordan Brown is the youngest person known to Amnesty at risk to be sentenced to life without parole there are already 2500 people in the U.S. serving life without parole for crimes committed when they were juveniles. There are 450 in Pennsylvania, more than any other state.
The Sentencing Project in Washington claims that only the U.S. has juveniles serving life without parole and said:”That leads to only two conclusions: either kids in the US are far more violent than those in the rest of the world, or the US has developed uniquely harsh sentences.” Another conclusion is possible. The politics of fear can be very successful at advancing the cause of the prison industrial complex.