Published: May 18, 2012
If convicted, the students charged face a felony, carrying up to 10 years in prison. “We’re very serious about safety, and we’re very serious about catching the students and making sure they face disciplinary and criminal charges.” However, the numbers show that the chance of a kid serving that full 10 year sentence is low. According to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, one juvenile served time behind bars for making a bomb threat in 2011. There were no juveniles in the system for 2009 and 2010.
Since many charged are under the age of 17, they end up in family court, where the rules are different than if they were charged as an adult. In Greenville County, defense attorney Grant Varner says many may end up in a program known as “Juvenile Diversion Services. “It’s essentially a form of probation,” Varner says. If a juvenile does not have a criminal record, they can be eligible for the intervention program, which includes everything from counseling to community service and meetings with a probation officer, but often avoids jail time. “It gives them an opportunity to rehabilitate, meet with counselors, understand the error of their ways and rather than giving them a harsh sentence that could potentially affect the rest of their lives, it’s hoping to teach them a lesson,” says Varner.
Lyles says regardless of how much time students serve, the district hopes to send a strong message. “This is serious business,” he says.