St. Paul – Representative Bud Nornes (R-Fergus Falls) and Representative Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake) announce legislation that responds to the June 17, 2006 death of 2-year-old Emily Lynn Johnson of a severe head injury one day after being assaulted by a 13-year-old boy at her day care in Fergus Falls. The bill calls for the age of adult certification for juvenile violent offenses to be lowered from 14 to 13, and lengthens the amount of time the offense stays on the perpetrator’s record.
“There must be some level of accountability when you’ve killed someone,” Nornes said. “Current law does not provide justice for families who lose a loved one.”
In the case of Emily Lynn Johnson, a 13-year-old boy was charged with second-degree manslaughter in juvenile court. Because of his age, he can’t go to prison and his record could be cleared when he turns 19. Currently, thirteen states have statutes that set the minimum certification age below the age of 14. Kansas, Vermont set the age at 10 in murder cases, as does Indiana in murder cases.
“This legislation would mean more significant punishments for juveniles who commit serious crimes, such as murder, manslaughter or assault with a deadly weapon,” Westrom said. “This bill isn’t about putting juveniles in prison, but providing the most appropriate justice for both victim and perpetrator. It makes sense that we ‘scale’ the age of certification for juveniles to a lower age when they commit such violent acts. The age of 14 has been on the books for a very long time and it’s time the law was reviewed before anyone must deal with this tragic situation again.”
Minnesota considers violent juvenile offenses murder in the first, second and third degrees, manslaughter in the first and second degrees, assault in the first, second and third degrees, aggravated robbery, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first, second, third and fourth degrees and malicious punishment of a child.
Rep. Nornes is serving his sixth term in the Minnesota House. He can be reached at the Capitol by calling 651-296-4946. He is also available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 277 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.