Thursday, May 05, 2005

Kearsley terrorist to face justice?

Talk about controversy! A former Kearsley High School student who terrorized 65 of her classmates with a hit list that included her own name, seems to be scrambling. Apparently, if the Flint Journal can be trusted (because often times it can't), there has been a "breakdown" between the high school terrorist and her attorney. He's removing himself from her case.

Kellie Jackson was scheduled to plead guilty to two charges stemming from distributing the hit list over the Internet, causing a wave of panic that nearly shut down the school, sports programs and extra-curricular activities for a week of terror for parents, students. teachers and the Kearsley administration. Imagine the trepidation of sending your child off to school knowing he or she were among those hit listed.

Kearsley High School has had a bad year! Lock downs due to bomb threats have become a regular occurance with students locked inside classrooms and worried parents locked outside the school, receiving short messages from hostage cell phones and Sidekicks. What is happening at that school anyway?? Why are those kids so angry?

Reality check: It's not just Kearsley being terrorized. During the last 10 years, we have witnessed repeated live reports of murder sprees which have killed students, teachers, cops, and security guards in schools across the country, Columbine High School being the worst. One teacher and 14 students including the killers died, and 23 others were wounded. The terrorists reportedly fell somewhat short of their goal, which was to murder 500 and blow up their school.

Remember the 13-year-old who wounded four of his classmates with a 9mm semiautomatic handgun in Oklahoma?

In March, 10 people died in Red Lake, Minn.

Another "kill list," similar to Jackson's, was found in neighboring Oakland County, allegedly written by a 14-year-old boy. He was charged with one count of threatening terrorism for a list he allegedly wrote threatening the lives of 11 people, including some of his classmates. Under the Michigan Anti-Terrorism Act, the boy could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of the felony charges.

Investigators said the list was found in the boy's backpack after four classmates claimed they saw him writing it in math class. The list described who the boy allegedly planned to kill at the school. School officials searched the teenager's backpack and discovered a notebook containing the list.

His attorney, at the pre-trial heaing, argued that the boy has no criminal history or record of disciplinary problems in school. He said the boy denies writing the list, and that he still has the support of his family, including his mother.

Prosecutors said there was no way to tell what the boy might have done if he hadn't been caught, and argued he should not be released. The court referee agreed with the prosecutors, and ordered the boy held without bond at the Oakland County Children's Village.

My point - and I do have one - Something needs to be done! Nadine Kaslow, a professor and chief psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta, recently told ABC News, that troubled adolescents often use the terrorism for attention. "Some of it is the media attention. Sadly, it is a way to get noticed. These are often kids who have been neglected, whose voices haven't been heard. This is a way to be heard."

I remember watching Jackson on television the day the news broke about the Kearsley hit list. She was front and center of a group of girls, describing their fears about being named on the list. I understand she was among the ones who called the media's attention to the situation.

Clearly, Jackson and the other terrorists are troubled whether it be from bullying at school, neglect or abuse at home, or other factors. And their troubled is having a horrible impact in our homes, in our neighborhoods and in our schools. We no longer have the freedom to deem such threats as child's play or teenage pranks. Our police and school officials now need to be far more vigilant with ensuring safe environments in which to learn and grow.

The Journal said Jackson wants to consult with a new attorney before going forward with her pleas to charges of making false reports or threats of a bomb/harmful device, a 4-year felony, and conspiracy to maliciously use telecommunication services, a 1-year circuit court misdemeanor. The deal called for her to plead guilty to those charges. In exchange, prosecutors were to dismiss two other charges connected with the threats. The deal also was to ask the judge to set aside the conviction on the 4-year felony if and when Jackson completes whatever sentence he imposes. That would leave only a misdemeanor conviction on her record.

If the 14-year-old kid in Holly is being charged under the Michigan Anti-Terrorism Act for a hit list of 11 found in his backpack, what of nearly 18-year-old woman who disseminated a hit list of 65 over the Internet? He's locked up. Jackson and her co-conspirators are free, leaving us to wonder what they might have done if they hadn't been caught.

Our society and academic institution can no longer tolerate such deadly cries for attention. All threats, large or small, should be punished to the full extent of the law.

After all, Jackson put her name on that hit list. Let her experience the terror of justice.


DGF said...

Yeah, I agree. She jumped off the porch to play with the big dogs.....and now she wants off easy? Does she understand the turmoil and horror she put many innocent people throught? Does she show any remorse? I think some of the irresponsible behavior you describe comes from our society's resistance to taking responsibility for one's own actions. Now I'm not perfect, but there's a difference between doing something wrong and expecting to get off easy -Vs- admitting guilt and asking for help/mercy. I hope somehow our society can step up and challenge people to act responsibly toward each other, valuing the feelings and sensibilites of others.

kjb/kmfc said...

I was happy to see that this gifted columnist has published again. One question.....Why aren't Anne Lamott's columns at included with your links?