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. 
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