The Price Of Justin Carter's Unfunny Facebook Joke? $500,000 Bail
Earlier this year, Carter and a friend got in an argument regarding the online video game League of Legends. After the friend suggested he was "crazy," Carter responded with, "'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts," which was then followed by a "JK" and "LOL," suggesting that the comment was sarcastic.
A woman in Canada who came across the argument called the police after finding out through a voluntary internet search that Carter lived near an elementary school. He was then taken into custody and charged with making a "terroristic" threat.
Obviously Carter's comment was inappropriate, insensitive, unnecessary, and offensive — the list goes on. But should Texas be spending their taxpayers' dollars on charging and jailing someone who made a cruel comment on the internet, without any further evidence of actually going through with the alleged crime?
His attorney, Don Flanary, said he's represented murders, rapists, and terrorists that didn't have as high a bail as Carter's. While punishing Carter with a misdemeanor, fine, or community service would be understandable, making him face up to eight years in prison is ridiculous.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last year sparked a national debate over gun violence and emergency protocol in our country. While the woman from Canada made a smart move by notifying the police of Carter's comment and close proximity to an elementary school, the Texas court system made a stupid move by charging Carter with a "terroristic" threat.
Teenagers and adults alike make insensitive comments on the internet and in-person conversations all the time. Should we really spend our time and money investigating these comments and prosecuting them? Is that all it will take to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook from happening?
Carter's mother, Jennifer, began a petition on Change.org which has so far reached 120,000 signatures. She claims that the police found no weapons after searching his apartment and that her son was assaulted during his time in prison, although it is doubtful that his assault will be investigated.
A spokesperson for the Austin police said that in light of recent events, statements like Carter's are taken seriously. But since when does "seriously" mean imprisonment due to a joke in poor taste?