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Letter to the Editor regarding "Penny's Law," by Jerry Lockwood,
Father of Penny Brown June, 2002

 

Dear Editor,

 

        On March 13, 2000, Edward Kindt was sentenced to nine years to life in prison for the brutal rape and murder of my daughter Penny Brown, on Mother's Day 1999, in the city of Salamanca, NY. 

         Penny was a wife and mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 13. She was also a registered nurse and certified nurse-midwife. Kindt was 15 years old when he  committed the crime. He was tried as an adult, but due to loopholes in New York State Law, the maximum sentence allowed the court was nine years. Justice was not served. The sentence did not fit the crime. 

         On the day he was sentenced I vowed to do everything in my power to change the law, so that serious juvenile crime would receive serious punishment. For the past three years, my family and I have worked toward that goal. In each of these years, a bill known as "Penny's Law" has been introduced in the State Senate and Assembly. "Penny's Law" would change the sentence for juveniles 13 years or older who commit second degree murder and are tried as adults. The minimum sentence is now 5 years, and it would change to 15 years. The maximum sentence is now 9 years, and it would change to 25 years. 

         Each year the Senate has passed the bill by large margins. This year the Senate voted 57 to 1 in favor of the legislation. Sadly, the Assembly has never been given the opportunity to vote. "Penny's Law" has been held in the Codes Committee of the Assembly for the past three years, with no action. There has been no debate on the bill, and we have been given no response for its failure to reach the floor. The Senate passed it 57 to 1, could a bad bill possibly have that much support in the Senate? 

         We have done our best to keep partisan politics out of the discussion on this bill, but that is no longer possible. I hold the Democratic Leadership, in the Assembly, fully responsible for delaying action on this legislation. Overwhelming support for the bill has been expressed to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's office. Petitions have been signed and letters have been mailed by hundreds of citizens. County resolutions in support of the bill have been passed. The President of the New York State District Attorney's Association has said that we need this legislation. Labor unions and other organizations that support the bill receive no explanation for its delay. This "Soft on Crime" attitude of the Democratic Leadership has effectively stolen the vote of every New York State Assemblyperson. If the bill does not come to the floor, they cannot vote. 

         I respectfully request that Speaker Silver allow a vote on this legislation, and give the elected representatives of the people of the New York State the opportunity to pass or reject the bill based on its merit. 

         "Soft on Crime" could become an issue in next November's elections, and if it does, this story will be told on every Assembly district in New York State, and the Leadership's party may suffer for it.              

 

                                  -Jerry Lockwood, Father of Penny Brown 

 

 

 

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