Catharine Young

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Member PhotoA Message From Assemblywoman and "Penny's Law" Sponsor, Catharine Young


     Far too many times in New York State, violent juvenile predators have not received appropriate sentencing for their crimes. The problem is that our laws are not tough enough and we need sweeping juvenile justice reforms.

     Currently there is a cavernous loophole in New York State law that must be closed. The concept is very simple. If a juvenile commits a murder and is tried as an adult, that person should be sentenced as an adult. To fix this loophole so that justice can be served, I have introduced Penny's Law in the New York State Assembly.

      Penny Lea Brown was a wife, mother of two, and a well-known and respected nurse-midwife. She went for an afternoon jog with her two dogs on a recreational trail near her home on Mother's Day in 1999. She never came back. Police and volunteers launched a massive search, and around 1:00 p.m. the next day, her body was found near the trail under leaves and debris. Penny had been brutally raped and murdered in broad daylight on Sunday afternoon on a public path in the middle of Salamanca.

     The Penny Lea Brown case is just one example of many where the sentence does not fit the crime. Edward Kindt, who was age 15 at the time of the murder, has been convicted of viciously raping and strangling Penny Lea Brown. To this day, Edward Kindt has shown no remorse for his vile atrocities. During sentencing, the judge called Kindt a "Sexual Predator" and told him, "You are a threat any time you are in society." The judge lamented that his hands were tied, that he gave Kindt the maximum sentence allowed under current New York State law, and that is not enough.

     Penny's family had been relieved when they found out that Kindt would be tried as an adult. Their relief turned into disbelief when they realized that it did NOT mean that he would receive a longer sentence. Trying a juvenile as an adult for murder in New York State basically means that the case is switched from Family Court to Criminal Court. Most people would be surprised to learn it does not mean stiffer penalties.

     If Kindt had been just a couple of months older, he would have received a maximum 25 years to life. Instead, he was sentenced to only 9 years to life. It is possible that he could be walking the streets, free to rape and kill again, in as little as 6 years.

That fact is an outrage.

    Under the current system, justice will not be served for any victim who is murdered by a juvenile or their families until we change the law. Right now, in New York State, if you are brutalized, raped, and  killed, the penalty for taking your life is less if your predator is under a certain age.

    Whether young or old, a murder is a murder, and a sexual predator is a sexual predator.

    Penny's death was a gruesome, savage act. People who commit such acts do not belong in our communities. Our families must be protected from them. They must be locked away.

"Penny's Law" would protect families by:

bulletEliminating the distinction between juveniles and adults convicted of murder in the second degree extending the minimum term of imprisonment to not less than 15 years.

    We can change the laws. "Penny's Law" was passed in the State Senate shortly after I introduced it in Assembly, but currently, it is being held up in the Assembly's committee system. We need to have a strong collective voice that echoes across New York State saying that Penny's Law should be passed. If you are interested in helping, please look at the "How Can I Help?" section of this website.

Thank You.

Assemblywoman Catharine Young

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


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