…and words can never hurt you… NOT!

Has anyone heard/read this story yet? About the teenager who made some “sarcastic remarks” while conversing at Facebook back in February and has been arrested and held in jail since March? Here’s a recap that I found H E R E.

In the state of Texas, a 19-year-old man named Justin Carter sits in prison, ruthlessly stripped of his freedom for making an offensive joke. After a Facebook friend with whom he played video games described him as “crazy” and “messed up in the head,” Carter replied – sarcastically, one imagines – “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.” He added “lol” and “jk” for good measure. For this he was arrested by Austin police, charged with making a “terroristic threat,” and thrown into prison. He may languish there until the start of the next decade.

Carter’s joke was witless and flippant – typical, in other words, of late-teenaged men. By no means was it criminal. Nevertheless, a woman in Canada, who inexactly described herself as a “concerned citizen,” saw from afar what Carter had written and shopped him to Texas police. Police acquiesced to her request, searching the family’s house in the process – and finding nothing. “They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made,” Jack Carter, the boy’s father, said. Apparently so: He’s been incarcerated since March without trial.

+ + + + + + +

Have we lost our freedom of speech in this country completely now?

I am torn about this issue. On the one hand, I agree he should never have worded his comments like he did, especially in this day and age of terrorism all around us. Yes, this young man needs to learn a hard lesson, however, throwing him in jail (apparently his family cannot afford the $500,000 bond they asked for, $50,000 of which would have to be paid out) doesn’t seem to be a good solution for him. They investigated him and found no evidence of an intent to do those things, it was just a remark, after which he had inserted an “LOL” and a “J/K” (just kidding?) so that readers would know it was not meant as serious. That’s the trouble with writing things online… you just never know.

But the thing that scares me most is that, after typing out those words, and after an investigation into his life with nothing having been found, he is still in jail now, 5 months later, with no hope of getting out. Now what if someone else had, say, used his computer and typed in words like that? How can they actually prove that this young man did it (unless of course he confessed to it which he probably did), but it’s so easy to post things anonymously online that I just can’t see jailing someone where no other evidence was found.

Am I missing something?

I know – when something happens, like Newtown, CT, we all wring our hands and wonder why someone didn’t spot it in that killer beforehand… so now we jump onto every little thing – but can’t there be some common sense in cases like this one?

I just don’t know what a good answer would be. What do you think?

To me, jail seems severe. Community service would seem a much better idea, although he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, so there is no penalty as yet. He is assumed innocent yet has been incarcerated in a jail now for 5 months. I just saw his mother on TV this morning, and she just can’t believe it. They just don’t know what to do next.

A conundrum in this mixed-up world….


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9 Responses to …and words can never hurt you… NOT!

  1. TopsyTurvy says:

    I don’t think he’s in jail because he committed a crime, at this point. He’s in jail because he hasn’t come to trial yet and can’t afford the bond to get out until the trial begins.

    It was stupid but there have been a lot of killings lately, so when he made the bad decision to say something threatening the law decided they didn’t really want to take a chance with his being able to get out easily. I can’t say as I blame them.

    Remember, the Newtown killer never said a word about what he was going to do. Very frightening. But the Columbine High School boys did! They posted on the internet. Well, do you really want to take the chance that the boy might actually want to do it?

    I don’t blame them if they’re being super careful, after all I see the same thing happening here with the courts when it comes to SD being abused. The courts here had a death associated with someone who had a history of violence being allowed custody (due to improperly investigating the person) and then killing a child, and now they’re super careful. That’s why it was so easy for us to control how little SD was seeing her mom’s BF for the last 4-5 years.


  2. Maggie says:

    It almost seems as if they want people either in prison, or afraid to speak lest they are sent there.


  3. Bonnie says:

    He can’t do community service when he is convicted of nothing. Whoever is representing him is doing a lousy job. Public defender or hired lawyer. Someone needs to find out if the District Attorney is going to pursue this or drop it. I think they are talking to the wrong people. The bond is outrageous for one thing. What is his lawyer doing?


  4. Eric Mayer says:

    We live in a police state. Obviously there’s not an iota of due process here. What the boy said in context is not a crime by any stretch of the imagination. Not even bad manners. It was sarcasm.

    But crap like this and the so called war on drugs fuels the booming private prison industry. How about the Pennsylvania judges, who actually got caught, who were sentencing practically every kid who came up before them to serve time, to fill up the new detention center, whose owners were paying the judges?

    Most of the people in prison in this country have no business being there and are less harmful to society than the people imprisoning them.


  5. Bex says:

    I also think that there are hundreds or thousands of these cases every day that go unnoticed. Only the very rare case gets publicized and acted upon.

    Back in the very early 1970s, when I was married to husband #1, we lived in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a teaching assistant at the University there (working on his Ph.D) and one of the classes he taught took a field trip to the major prison near where we lived in Bloomington. I’m pretty sure it was the U.S.Penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN. I got to go along.

    What an eye opener that visit was. They allowed us deep into the bowels of the prison. My ex was the leader of our group and we even got into the solitary confinement areas where inmates were waving arms out of little windows in their cell doors. It was quite unnerving actually. We were in our early 20’s so not exactly world-wise yet.

    We got to talking with some inmates who were on a break and they allowed us to mingle with them for a while. When the inmates realized we were a group from the university, one by one they came over, introduced themselves, and proceeded to relate their own personal stories of why they were there.

    A good many of those men were in that prison for between 5 and 15 years because they had been caught carrying 1 oz. of marijuana on them. They could not believe that their lives had turned around like they had. They were students one minute and prisoners the next. Some were nearing the end and others were just beginning their sentences. None of them had any hope of appealing.

    I can distinctly remember one young man, a handsome dude, who kept us there with him longer than the rest, he was searching our eyes for any answers, and he said he didn’t know how he’d last in there for another 4-1/2 more years – he’d done 6 months already. He said he was mingling with hard-core murderers every day and life there was totally scary for him. He touched me (mentally, not physically) and he haunted my thoughts and dreams long after we’d gone.

    You just never know what path your life will take from one minute to the next…


  6. Irene Bean says:

    Something appears to be grossly awry. The *wheels* of justice are often lopsided. Cases where the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

    A friend’s story: The crime committed was 100% despicable. A friend’s stepson sold drugs, though he’d never used a day in his life. Still despicable. He was on the lam when arrested. Has spent 15 years in prison. Will be released soon to a halfway house where he has to live 6 months or so, I believe. So – what he did was heinous – selling drugs… but 15 years! I asked my friend why they weren’t more proactive about appealing the sentencing. I can’t remember the answer, but I suspect the family couldn’t afford representation etc. Or, people give up?


  7. Rhubarb says:

    Bex, I agree with you. With no other corroborating evidence to show he intended harm to himself or others, his sentence is far too severe, punitive of him and his family. There are other possibilities, as you pointed out. I think community service would be an excellent alternative. Too severe a punishment for “stupid”. If he were that violent, there would be other indications. What about psychiatric evaluation?


  8. Bex says:

    I agree, Em… 5 months in jail for this? It’s mind-boggling.


  9. mz. em says:

    I can’t believe the police still have the boy locked up. What about due process? Someone is dragging their feet it would seem to me.


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