Caleb Clemmons, a 20-year-old former student at Georgia Southern has been in jail for six months for making a joke Tumblr post that said he was going to shoot up his school.
Clemmons, a psychology major, who ran a Tumblr of his creative writing, posted the following on February 8th: “hello. my name is irenigg and i plan on shooting up georgia southern. pass this around to see the affect it has. to see if i get arrested.” After a few hours, Clemmons was tracked down and arrested, and has been held in Bulloch County Jail since then. Police found no actual plans to attack the school, and Clemmons owned no weapons.
However, the county decided to set his bond at $20,000, much more than his family can afford. Clemmons has repeatedly told authorities that the Tumblr post was “an experimental literary piece and an art project,” but he is still being charged with making terroristic threats via computer, which can be punishable by up to five years in prison.
The University community was not even notified of Clemmons’ threat to the campus until March, because as the Dean of Students explained in an email, “there was no continuous threat.”
Clemmons’ family reports that he has been physically abused while in the county jail, and that they don’t have enough money to launch a proper defense of the scholarship student. Because he has prior arrests for fighting with his step-father as well as marijuana possession, they worry that without a decent defense lawyer, Clemmons will end up spending years in prison because of an artistic statement made on Tumblr.
His mother wrote on a website dedicated to getting attention brought to Clemmons case: “Though Caleb might have chosen the wrong time to post a prank, his present punishment and possible fate is beyond my comprehension… Caleb was attending a great school and had a promising future.”
The case is similar to one earlier this year, when a Texas teen was also charged with making a terroristic threat. Supporters of Clemmons have pointed out another case, where a Texas teen brought a shotgun to his high school and was arrested, only to have his charges completely dropped. Gawker has reached out to the Bulloch County District Attorney and the Bulloch County Police Department, but has yet to get comment from either.
His family is raising money to hire representation for Caleb, who goes on trial in a few days.