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Right on Crime | June 14, 2011
Senior pranks. The thought conjures up memories of water balloons, bathroom sabotage operations, and other innocuous (albeit idiotic) activities. Above the Law recently highlighted the story (potentially NSFW) of Tyell Morton, a high school senior from Indiana, who decided to participate in a senior prank which may now land him in prison. Security observed Morton enter the school building concealing a package and later departing the building without it. Worried that the package contained explosives, the school was evacuated and Morton was arrested. The package did not contain a bomb, but an inflatable sex doll.
Morton has been charged with felony criminal mischief, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years. What’s worse? Prosecutors are taking the “terroristic threat” very seriously, claiming they have no choice in the “post-Columbine world.” This hardly seems like a sensible response. Schools must certainly treat a potentially dangerous situation seriously. Once it is determined, however, that there was no genuine danger to anyone’s safety, surely there can be no reasonable ground upon which incarceration can be justified.
It may be perfectly reasonable to punish Morton at school – and perhaps even to require that he apologize and help pay back any expenses that the school incurred, but can Morton really be given a multiple year prison sentence for this? Here we have, as Above The Law put it, “a teen acting like a teen while the adults act like children.”