March 01, 2005

When journal entries are illegal

Just when I think the zero tolerance policies can't get any more insane, or be applied in more abusive ways, I'm proven wrong.

Winchester police say William Poole, 18, was taken into custody Tuesday morning. Investigators say they discovered materials at Poole's home that outline possible acts of violence aimed at students, teachers, and police.

Poole told LEX 18 that the whole incident is a big misunderstanding. He claims that what his grandparents found in his journal and turned into police was a short story he wrote for English class.

"My story is based on fiction," said Poole, who faces a second-degree felony terrorist threatening charge. "It's a fake story. I made it up. I've been working on one of my short stories, (and) the short story they found was about zombies. Yes, it did say a high school. It was about a high school over ran by zombies."

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. "Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it's a felony in the state of Kentucky," said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Say what?

1. It was a journal article, and a work of fiction. Can we pass a law requiring that "making a threat" involves actual contact of some kind with an intended victim?
2. It should be illegal for anyone to be held legally responsible for anything written in a journal (obviously, I say this as someone who's had her journal snooped through before).
3. "Possess matter involving a school or function"? Can someone please tell me what the heck that means?

Additional details show that the idiocy here is spread far and wide:

The arrest came after a tip from a family member that Pool was trying to "recruit a gang to take over the school," Detective Berl Perdue said. "He didn't have a gang, but he was attempting to organize one," Perdue said.

4. Don't the laws against gangster crime require that one have a gang, and commit a crime?

Police said writings in which Poole tried to persuade other students to take part in the takeover were found.

5. Did any of the other students receive these writings?

And this:

An 18-year-old junior at George Rogers Clark High School has been charged with terroristic threatening, a felony, after notes outlining possible acts of violence against students, teachers and security guards were found. No direct threats were made against named people, Winchester police Detective Steven Caudill said.

6. Once again, can we require that a terroristic threat charge involve an actual threat against an actual victim? calls this a "thoughtcrime," and correctly so.

(For some reason, I can't get to load, but I'm sure he's all over this.)

Update: Oh, yeah, ZI has the story:

The short story did not mention Poole's school, any teachers, the principal or any cops, officials or students.

His bail was raised from one to five thousand dollars at the request of prosecutors because of the "seriousness of the crime".

There is no mention of the school itself being involved here. This madness seems to be 100% from the police.

Winchester Government contact information:
Mayor Dodd Dixon
Chief of Police W.M.Jackson II - Phone: 1-859-745-7400, Fax: 1-859-745-7404

I've noticed ZI has been including email addresses and phone numbers whenever possible in these tales of zero-tolerance madness, which is mighty useful for any concerned parents/teachers/students/bystanders who want to register their displeasure. But note also one dissenting commenter who claims this isn't the entire story, nor is the first time this student has been involved in this sort of trouble.

Posted by kswygert at March 1, 2005 10:27 AM