Friday, August 2, 2002 The Dallas Morning News ======================== Execution For Youth Protested Lawmaker Asks Officials to Re-examine Death for Juvenile Offenders AUSTIN- A Fort Worth lawmaker said on Thursday that executing people for crimes they committed as minors is "barbaric" and that he will try again to get the Legislature to outlaw the practice. Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, was joined by Texas medical, legal and human rights experts in urging the governor, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and the judiciary to re-examine the state's use of the death penalty in such cases. They timed their news conference at the state Capitol to focus on the scheduled execution later this month of two such offenders - Toronto Patterson of Dallas and T.J. Jones of Longview. Toronto Patterson, scheduled to die Aug. 28 for the 1995 murder of his cousin Kimberly Brewer and her two young daughters, Jennifer Brewer and Ollie Jean Brown, in Dallas, was 17 at the time of the crime. He had no prison record. T.J. Jones also was 17 when he robbed and killed Willard Lewis Davis, 75, of Longview in 1994, according to court records. Mr. Jones is to die Thursday. Texas has executed 11 of 19 juvenile offenders put to death in the United States since 1984 and accounts for nearly a third of the 81 juvenile offenders on death rows across the nation, Rep. Lon Burnam said. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Pakistan are the only counties outside the United States known to have executed juvenile offenders in the last three years, he said. "Texas stands virtually alone in the world and the nation in its continued practice of executing people who committed their offenses before age 18," Rep. Lon Burnam said. A bill he authored to ban such executions passed the House but died in the Senate in 2001. He blamed Gov. Rick Perry for killing it. Kathy Walt, spokeswoman for the governor, said she doesn't recall whether the governor had opposed the measure. She said the governor supports the current law, but would give Rep. Lon Burnam's proposal a "serious look" if it passes. Governor Perry's Democratic challenger, Tony Sanchez, is opposed to changing the law, according to his spokesman, Mark Sanders. Rep. Lon Burnam said he and other supporters hope to "soften" the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and other opponents on the issue. University of Texas law professor Jordan Steiker, who joined Rep. Lon Burnam at the news conference, said the U.S. Supreme Court is moving in the direction of outlawing the execution of persons for crimes committed as minors. "The writing is plainly on the wall, and Texas should act now with leadership, rather than follow," Jordan Steiker said. Dr. Mitch Young, president of The Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said children are not as mature as adults and shouldn't be treated the same by the legal system. "The majority of juvenile offenders do not go on to offend as adults," Dr. Mitch Young said.