I have previously written about my concern with the criminalization of conduct in America, particularly at our schools. A case in Columbia, Missouri again raises this issue with a 17-year-old Hickman High School junior facing possible felony charges for a prank. The student changed the last name of Raigan Mastain to “Masturbate” and more than 700 yearbooks went to press with the change. Now a prosecutor is considering a charge of first-degree property damage and harassment — a felony prosecution for an immature prank.
Recently we have seen other pranks charged as crimes in high school. The question is why these cases (which used to be handled as a disciplinary matter for the school) had to be handed over to the police and prosecutors. There are heavy penalties that can be meted out like barring the student from graduation.
To her credit, Mastain is saying that she believes this was just immaturity rather than malice. She seems to be showing more sense and restraint than some adults in the matter.
The yearbook was issued with stickers correcting the spelling.