Justin Carter, an Austin Texas teenage,r has been in jail since March for making a “violent threat” on face book and following it by LOL and JK (laugh out loud and Just kidding) during a video game. The teen is charged with terroristic threatening and could face up to eight years in prison for his comment.
The statements “lol” and “jk” — meaning “laughing out loud” and “just kidding” — indicate that Justin’s statement was entirely sarcastic, said his father.
But a Canadian woman who saw the post looked up Carter’s Austin address, determined that it was near an elementary school, and called the police. Carter was arrested one month later, and has been in jail ever since. He recently celebrated his 19th birthday behind bars.
Authorities charged him with making a terrorist threat. If convicted, he will face eight years in prison.
“These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” said the elder Carter.
Authorities noted that recent school shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut have caused them to evaluate all potential threats seriously.
Justin made his comments just two months after the Sandy Hook school shooting and as his father said, “His father is trying to raise awareness of the severe, even absurd, consequences for making comments on social media saying sarcastic teens across the county probably do not realize what is at stake.
“These people are serious,” Jack Carter said. “They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made.”
The brains of teenagers do not fully mature until they are actually about age 25 and they make some serious misjudgments in behavior sometimes, such as drinking and driving, illegal drugs, risky sex, and sometimes they just run their mouths when they should have kept them shut. Or in this case, run their fingers.
Kids frequently threaten to “kill” each other “I’ll kill you if you let him know what I said.” I have made such a remark myself, but depending on the context these “threats” can be taken very very seriously by a police force without any sense of humor about them. Like making a “bomb threat” on an airplane, it just ain’t done, you will go to prison for that, or for yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
Teenagers don’t always engage brain before putting mouth in gear though, and while I understand why the authorities are taking a very dim view of this young man’s remark, keeping him in prison/jail I think is a bit of an over reaction unless he has a history of violent behavior in the past. But then again,, they are looking at the “worst possible outcome”–what if they let him out and he wasn’t kidding and he did kill someone?
If my son were in this predicament, I think I would also be behind him, assuming he had no history of violence or other problematic behavior. But I think it behooves us to make sure that our kids are taught that they need to watch their mouths.
While we lived in Dallas a young man was kept in jail for 11 months on the accusation of a 10 year old girl that he had molested her. He claimed he was innocent. Well, finally the girl confessed that it was NOT true, that she had simply made it up for attention. The young man was let out of jail with an “Oh, I’m sorry. Bye!”
I saw this on the news and later when we had some rental property in which two young sisters lived, one 14 going on 24 and the other age 10, I cautioned my son Andrew to NEVER allow them into our home unless one of us were there, and never to go into the rental house unless their father (a single parent) was home. We had a swimming pool at my house and the girls would frequently come to swim. The 14 year old was “stacked” and one of my son’s friends started behaving inappropriately with her and I told him that he should stop, he didn’t, so he was firmly told to never come to my house again. The girl encouraged his attentions, but the point is that even if he had not really”done” anything except be “friendly,” it was absolutely inappropriate. My son Andrew obeyed my wishes and saw the point in protecting himself from false accusations just like the young man who had spent 11 months in jail on a trumped up charge because some child wanted attention.
This case of Justin’s is one of those things that no matter what happens, it is the wrong thing. Whatever happens though, I don’t think prison is going to “reform” this young man, but at the same time, I think that it may have taught him a lesson and also that maybe parents will discuss this with their children and caution them about what can happen if they open mouth and insert both feet.