Caleb Jamaal Clemmons, the 20-year-old college student who has been in jail for six months after posting a vague but provocative threat on his Tumblr blog, pleaded guilty to the charge of making terroristic threats today and was sentenced by a judge.
Superior Court Judge John Turner sentenced Clemmons to five years of probation. During that time he is banned from four counties, including the one in which his school is located, and he is not allowed to use social media. He must complete a mental health evaluation within 30 days of release. He must also complete a drug and alcohol evaluation and avoid contact with alcohol and illegal drugs during his probation.
He was additionally sentenced to six months in jail, which he has already served, and 150 to 180 days at a probation detention center, which was suspended. He will be released today.
Clemmons was scooped up by police three hours after posting a vague threat on his Tumblr
The psychology major was scooped up by police three hours after posting a vague threat on his Tumblr: "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."
Although police found no weapons or evidence of an actual plan to attack the school, a judge set Clemmons' bail at $20,000, which was too much for him and his mother to pay. As a result, he spent the full time waiting for his court date in jail. A friend took over his Facebook and Tumblr page to argue for his release, and a petition on Change.org was signed by 3,874 people. Other friends set up new blogs to advocate for Clemmons, who was also known as Ryan Lang, his online alterego.
"It was deemed to be at least a threat, if nothing else."
The charge, "making terroristic threats," comes from Georgia state penal code Section 16-11-37. Similar charges have been leveled in recent months against young men in Massachusetts and Texas. Sensitivity to online threats, however absurd they seem, may be heightened due to recent violent events such as the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Boston Marathon bombing.
"It was deemed to be at least a threat, if nothing else," Clemmons' lawyer Jack Williamson says. "That’s what terroristic threats are. It’s not carrying through with any acts, because if there was some act involved, then it would carry up to a 10-year prison sentence ... Nowadays, with people being shot in theaters and schools and on the streets, these types of things are looked at a whole lot differently."