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Blow-up Bandit Faces Felony Charges

| July 11, 2011

Last month, Right On Crime highlighted the story of Tyell Morton, an Indiana high school student who placed an inflatable blow-up doll in the women’s restroom as a senior prank.  Suspecting that he was carrying explosives, authorities placed the school on lockdown and arrested the 18-year-old.

According to a recent AP article, Morton has been charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and institutional criminal mischief, a felony that carries a potential eight years in prison and will stay on his record for the rest of his life.  The Rush County Prosecutor Philip Caviness claims that he does not intend to seek prison time for Morton, but said that he’s “pretty comfortable with the charges that we’ve filed.”  He feels that school administrators and local law enforcement acted appropriately with regards to the situation, and continues to claim that such brutal measures are necessary in the “post-Columbine world.”

But once it was discovered that Morton had not placed explosives in the school, but an inflatable blow-up doll, was it really necessary to brand him as a felon for the rest of his life?  George Washington University’s Professor Jonathan Turley asks: “[W]hat type of society we are creating when our children have to fear that a prank could lead them to jail for almost a decade.  What type of citizens are we creating who fear the arbitrary use of criminal charges by their government?”  Morton remains incarcerated in a county jail, awaiting sentencing.


RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.