Bill Would Make 10 Year Olds Eligible To Be Tried As Adults

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An attempt to lower the age to 10 at which juveniles may be certified as adults for serious crimes has been laid over for future consideration.

The bill, called Emily’s Law, was before the House Public Safety Committee Thursday.

Rep. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lakea, is the author. He said they want to give prosecutors the option of trying younger juveniles as adults for the most serious and violent crimes.

“We’re not talking about somebody vandalizing a car, or some graffiti,” Westrom said. “We’re talking violent felony acts, such as murder.”

Right now, juveniles can be tried as adults only if they are 14 years of age or older.

The law is named for Emily Johnson, a 2-year old from Fergus Falls who was sexually assaulted and murdered by the 13-year-old son of her daycare provider. The is the fifth time the bill, in some form, has been introduced at the Minnesota Legislature.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Adam Carter Interviews Westrom

Comments (14)
  1. linda says:

    I don’t think anyone under 17yrs old can properly process their actions with consequences & should NOT be tried as adults. 10yrs old-a few years out of toddler stage tried as an adult !? Ridiculous. I don’t agree, though, that they’re released at 18 or 21- they definitely should be kept till they’re 25yrs old & hopefully taught some kind of trade. Since a lot of parents don’t like to accept responsibility for their children’s actions, we as a society have to. We can’t just lock them away & forget about them.

    1. get a grip says:

      wonder what it would be like if your child was killed by someone who knew exactly what they were doing. HMMMMMM Linda I can only HOPE That this never happens to you. Get a grip on the society at what it is today – and don’t forget these kids that go and kill and get a highh from it, could one day drive a bus with your grandkids on it or niece or nephew or friends and hmmmmmm you take it from there. There HAS TO BE punishment – we give them cars to drive, guns to shoot and most of them are left home alone starting at the age of 9.

      1. erik says:

        And I just hope that YOUR kids wouldn’t be pressuered by his/her friends and do something that would get them a life sentence. There are 2 sides to this coin, get a grip. Do you know exactly where your kids are and what they’re doing this very moment?

    2. KCARLSON says:

      It gives the option to receive an adult stayed sentence along with the juvenile sentence. It never states that we should “lock up and forget about” every offender. Would you like it if the “trade” he learned enabled him to work at your childs daycare center or gave him the opprotunity to kill and sexually assult another child?

  2. Mike says:

    While I understand the need for law like this I wonder if it would not be better to just lower it to 12, and not 10, instead.

    While a 10 y/o may commit a heinous crime I do not know if they comprehend the gravity of what they have done. This is what we want judges and juries to decide. Does any parent want to send their child to jail, no? But, I don’t know

    Does it really make that much sense to remove a child from their parents(lest the parents were just plain morons) care, then lock them up for life or even 5-50 yrs.?

    This 13 y/o that committed this crime should be locked up until he is 18 for sure but then I would say mandatory probation for the rest of his natural life..

  3. Nancy Aleshire says:

    Boys of that age haven’t even reached puberty yet. They should be put into treatment programs, not jail. I would be almost certain this boy has been sexually abused and those issues need to be addressed.

  4. Mike Grayson says:

    It doesn’t matter if they comprehend their act or not. If they commit these crimes, they are broken beyond repair. Lock them up like the animals they will always be, and lock up the so-called parents as well.

  5. Susan says:

    What would you want done if Emily was your child?
    I know Emilys mom?
    How sad to loose a child like this.
    The day care mom knew there was a problem with her son.
    But continued to let him watch the children.
    Sad. When this could have been avoided.
    Im behind this law.
    It needs to be passed.
    So more children are not murdered like Emily was.

    1. Ruth Koob says:

      Passing Emily’s Law wouldn’t keep children from being murdered. No law can truly keep a crime from being committed. It appears that there are two very different agendas going on with this issue. One, there’s a call for punishment. And two, there’s a call for punishment with an attempt at rehabilitation. I can understand wanting to punish a criminal, but punishment does nothing to make the person fit for society after release from prison. If we don’ try to rehabilitate criminals, we’re still stuck with dangerous individuals. Children tried as adults don’t receive rehabilitation, but children tried as juveniles do. Yes, youths tried as juveniles receive a much less severe sentence than those tried as adults, but I think that’s a reasonable trade-off for receiving rehabilitation.

  6. Paul says:

    I have no problem with trying juveniles as adults for serious crimes, but ten years old is way too young.

  7. Leah T says:

    As a college student majoring in child psychology, as well as adolescent development, I am asking for your support to help oppose this bill. The future of our youth can prosper with rehabilitation to solve juvenile crimes. Rehabilitation for the child is needed to help the child as well as our society instead of imprisonment. Both middle childhood (ages 6-10) and adolescents do not have the ability to understand the full capacity of the consequences of their actions or full control of their behavior. Therefore, they would be punished for behavior that is a result of the developmental stage they are in. With proper rehabilitation with those in their same developmental stage they can receive psychological help versus being placed with adults in prison. By signing this petition you are making a difference in a child’s life within the state of Minnesota. Thank you for your time and patience.

  8. KCARLSON says:

    Please read the propsed bill and be educated about it before commenting and deciding. Emily’s Law DOES NOT state that every offender aged 10 and up should be tried as an adult. It states when a certain criteria is met (ie. level of offense) an offender could receive both a juvenile AND and adult sentence. If the juvenile sentence is violated or a new offense is committed, the adult sentence can be put into effect. Each case is looked at and decided on individually.
    Emily would turn 7 years old tomorrow. Instead of having a party and celebrating, her family will visit the grave where they placed their daughter and they will remember the short time they had with her. Her murderer, who in this case was just days away from turning the age to be tried as an adult, will wake up, go to public school, talk with family and hang out with friends. He sexually assulted her, threw her against a wall and left her unresponsive. He knew enough not to tell anyone she was laying alone in a room hurt or he would get in trouble. He watched her family struggle to understand why their baby wouldn’t wake up. He kept his mouth shut so she couldn’t get help because HE KNEW IT WAS WRONG. If he never commits a crime like this again, that’s great and the “rehibilitation” worked. If he gets out of school, drives your childs school bus or works at his/her summer camp (for example) and committs a crime like this again, wouldn’t you want justice? Wouldn’t you wonder how someone with a background of murder got a chance to be around your child and do it again? Then he would get a new sentence AND serve the previous adult sentence from when he killed an innocent little girl when he was younger. Please say a prayer for Emily’s family whether you agree with Emily’s Law or not.

  9. Ruth Koob says:

    Justice is a word that’s thrown around a lot in controversial issues. But it means different things to different people. For the victims and their families, it typically means punishing the offender. Understandably, they are not motivated by the best interests of society, but by a desire to avenge the victim.
    Apparently they don’t know that compared to children who are sentenced to the juvenile system, children who are tried as adults have a higher recidivism rate. They also re-offend sooner, and with more serious crimes. Clearly, that isn’t in the best interests of society.
    Avenging a victim by trying the juvenile offender as an adult increases the likelihood that that offender will victimize someone else after release after prison. Where is the justice in that?

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