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Juvenile Tried as an Adult: The Case of Jordan Brown

The US justice system established a separate juvenile justice system to divert youthful offenders from criminal punishment. The system is also set to advocate for personalized rehabilitation programs in the country. Significant adjustments were made to eliminate the elements of adult or criminal systems. Further, it aimed to prioritize the reintegration of the child into the community instead of the act committed by individuals. Policy changes such as more aggressive policing have been implemented, helping improve the treatment of juveniles. Such reforms have also changed sentencing options and decision-making in juvenile cases. Depending on the law and the offense’s intensity, the case may be treated as a juvenile or adult case. This paper elucidates the case of Jordan Brown, an underage who was tried as an adult, and its implications for the rights of juveniles.

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Jordan Brown was eleven years old during his arrest and a Pennsylvania resident. According to the case, he hit the headlines after allegations of killing his father’s fiancée and his then-to-be step-mother. The act took place in February 2009, where the victim, a 26-year-old lady named Kenzie Houk, was found dead in her bed, with a bullet in her head (Chen, 2010). Houk was eight months pregnant during the time of death. Jordan pleaded guilty to charges, becoming one of “the youngest suspects in the country to be charged with homicide” (Chen, 2010). The juvenile was convicted in a Pennsylvanian court shortly after his arrest. It is worth mentioning that the Pennsylvanian state laws have no stipulations against age limits for minors charged with criminal homicide as adults. Therefore, Brown faced the same treatment as an adult suspect.

Following the arrest, Jordan was imprisoned in the Lawrence Country Jail, a correction center for adults. After his attorneys argued against his adult confinement, he was later transferred to a juvenile center in March (Chen, 2010). The authorities booked him into an adult jail, where he was charged as an adult for the 2009 murder (Chen, 2010). Interestingly, the Supreme Court dismissed his conviction due to a lack of satisfactory evidence that Brown committed the crime. There was no evidence that the boy pulled the trigger or the prosecution could connect him with the murder. The offender’s continued challenge of the evidence attracted attention to various stakeholders in the country.

Additionally, the Supreme Court ordered in Jordan Brown’s case that “it is not concluding as a matter of law a child must confess to be decertified to juvenile court” (Chen, 2010). Further, the Court stressed the need for rehabilitative procedures based on the nature of the crime and the evidence presented. The proof presented included expert testimony from the defendant, posing a validity issue. Also, the Court could not find any association between Brown’s confession and his rehabilitation (Chen, 2010). It was clear that the defendant was self-incriminated and deprived of his rights when he was tried as an adult instead of being taken to a juvenile court. These facts challenged the effectiveness and validity of the arguments presented by the prosecution.

The eventual release of Jordan Brown was fair because the prosecution presented no sufficient proof to convict him of the crime. The sentencing procedure also violates international law and standards for minors (Chen, 2010). Importantly, children who are not physically, emotionally, or mentally developed lack adults’ culpability level. Thus, they should be treated specially during trials based on their immaturity and youthfulness. The best interests of the child and maximizing the use of the potential for their successful reintegration into society should be among the main objectives of any criminal justice system (Wilson et al., 2018). Children should be protected against adult convictions, especially since the law has established specific rehabilitative and correctional procedures for minors.

Jordan’s case reflects the mixed feelings that juveniles and their families undergo when wrongly accused. Brown said that it used to bother him all the time. His father had post-traumatic stress disorder. Minors should not at any given point be tried as adults, given that they are more likely to act delinquently as they mature. Transferring juveniles to adult court does not necessarily inhibit crime. Instead, it increases reoffending (Wilson et al., 2018). Moreover, juveniles are more likely to face harassment and abuse in adult cells, which may affect them negatively, both physically and psychologically (Papalia et al., 2019). Juveniles like Brown tried adult courts are also likely to face the same punishment as grownups. Such penalties include life imprisonment without parole, preventing them from accessing rehabilitative programs. In consequence, these chastisements hinder them from filing for leniency.

Juvenile offenders should instead be rehabilitated in juvenile canters because: in these centers, they are easily protected from physical and sexual abuse as they keep them separate from adult offenders. They can also receive psychological counseling, addiction treatment such as drug addiction, and easy access to education. In addition, there is easy to specialize care to specific populations like females. It is also possible for them to be paid visits by their families, creating a sense of belonging. Since rehabilitation can also cause some serious mental problems to juveniles as they lose connections with their loved ones, it is advisable to produce other methods of containing them, especially if the offenses are not of a high degree. These containment methods include home detention, day evening canters, or even charging bails (Wilson et al., 2018). Home detention and day evening canters involve a comparative assessment of the juvenile’s behavior in their home instead of a prison. Charging bails is vital in minimizing overpopulation in children and adult correction facilities.

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In conclusion, juveniles do not have the same mental capacity as compared to adults. Their brains are undergoing development, and they cannot make the same decisions as grownups. Minors are also unconscious of the law and what it entails, making them more prone to commit unlawful acts if they are not well observed. Therefore, it is possible to find them on the wrong side of the law with or without their knowledge. Convicting them as adults most likely may not work out very well. In essence, it may adversely affect them in various ways, such as wasting their youthful time and denying them access to education. To eliminate these problems, it is advisable to try them in the juvenile justice system as this has numerous advantages since, if not acquitted, the children’s rights, such as protecting them from physical abuse and enabling them to access education, are upheld. The measures will allow them to develop mentally, which helps them in the future.


Chen, S. (2010). Boy, 12, faces grown up murder charges. CNN. Web.

Papalia, N., Shepherd, S. M., Spivak, B., Luebbers, S., Shea, D. E., & Fullam, R. (2019). Disparities in criminal justice system responses to first-time juvenile offenders according to indigenous status. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 46(8), 1067-1087. Web.

Wilson, D. B., Olaghere, A., & Kimbrell, C. S. (2018). Effectiveness of restorative justice principles in juvenile justice: A meta-analysis. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.

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