Zero Tolerance

Students Won't Go To Jail for Fishing Knives, But Zero Tolerance Still Threatens Teen Boys

Sanity prevails for two Escondido high schoolers.

|

Brandon Cappelletti
Brandon Cappelletti / Facebook

Two teenagers from Escondido, California, can breathe a sigh of relief after authorities decided not to charge them for leaving weapons—fishing knives—in their cars.

The young men, 18-year-old Brandon Cappelletti and 16-year-old Sam Serrato, can also return to classes. They will not be expelled.

In January, a random drug-dog search of the San Pasqual High School parking lot indicated that Serrato and Cappelletti's vehicles contained contraband. Cappelletti had left several small knives in his car after a weekend fishing trip. Serrato also had a knife—one he purchased for protection, with his parents' permission.

It's against the law to bring weapons onto school property—even unknowingly—and the boys should have been let off with warnings. Instead, school administrators removed the boys from school and called the police—subjecting them to criminal weapons charges. These actions imperiled Serrato's chances of scoring a much-needed athletic scholarship, and would have completely derailed Cappelletti's plan to join the Marines.

Their horrifying ordeal is now over: sanity, thankfully, trumped zero tolerance. According to 10news.com:

Lt. Ed Varso said the Escondido Police Department conducted a thorough review of the cases against Serrato and Cappelletti.

"Following the review, and based on the totality of the circumstances, the Escondido Police Department has decided to not submit the cases to the District Attorney's Office, or to the Juvenile Diversion Program," Varso said in a statement. "No charges will be pursued in the case."

This is the best possible outcome: Cappelletti and Serrato didn't deserve to have their lives ruined for harmless mistakes that threatened no one. Many other teens disciplined under ludicrous zero tolerance policies weren't so lucky.

It's against the law for students to leave fishing knives, Swiss Army knives, or pellet guns in the trunks of their cars. But every time I write about a story involving a kid facing arrest and expulsion for inadvertently violating one of these prohibitions, I receive a barrage of emails and Twitter messages from adults who claim wasn't always this way. Most boys, they tell me, carried pocketknives. They went hunting and fishing in the mornings, before classes. They belonged to archery clubs that would meet on school grounds. Their school facilities had smoking rooms.

Times have changed, and perhaps not for the better. Public schools became paranoid about mass shootings and stabbings, and took extraordinary measures to deter all activity tangentially associated with violence. In the process, they have criminalized what was once considered normal teenage boyhood, not so very long ago. It's not clear these policies make kids any safer—but they do make it more dangerous for young men to grow up the way their grandparents, parents, and slightly older cousins did.

NEXT: Trump's Attacks on Bush's Foreign Failures Haven't Hurt Him

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Zero tolerance just ain’t what it used to be. The kids will run amok.

  2. The young men, 18-year-old Brandon Cappelletti and 16-year-old Sam Serrato, can also return to classes.

    But…you said they weren’t going to jail.

  3. The next time there’s a mass filleting at a school, you’ll rue this article Robby. YOU WILL RUE IT!!!

    1. Only his hair will remain.

    2. No way any school filled with teenagers will ever be boneless….

  4. a random drug-dog search of the San Pasqual High School parking lot indicated that Serrato and Cappelletti’s vehicles contained contraband

    I thought the dog “alerted” to ibuprofen, not knives.

    1. ibuprofen is contraband according to the idiots that run that school.

      But being realistic, the dog didn’t alert to a damn thing. The cop told the dog to alert and the dog alerted.

      1. ibuprofen is contraband

        Exactly – I think the article should point out the idiocy of that policy too rather than just focusing on the knives.

      2. Yes, well, Hans is quite clever.

  5. Stupid fucking pigs destroying the lives of innocent children. These people are supposed to know the law – illegal search and seizure. Ever read the Constitution? That should be REQUIRED for anyone who takes the oath to uphold it. Why do cities hire such incompetent losers. They are the dumbest of the dumb. They are supposed to protect us but they really are a menace to society. They are dangerous and have far too much power. Stupid fucking pigs. I support a law where if the pigs violate our rights we violate theirs in the same way. So in this case if the kids were facing 10 years in jail then these pigs should be locked up for the same time. Then maybe they’ll think twice before wrecking innocent lives.

    1. Why do cities hire such incompetent losers. They are the dumbest of the dumb. They are supposed to protect us but they really are a menace to society. They are dangerous and have far too much power.

      Cities hire these losers to protect city officials, not the people. They hire these losers to blindly enforce statute, not to read the Constitution. Their job is not to serve and protect. That is a myth. Their job is to take orders from their masters in City Hall, and to make the people obey their every whim as they enforce the edicts of their masters.

      We live in a feudal system. The costumes and the method of selecting our rulers has changed, but that’s about it.

      1. If this semi-literate nutjob’s prior posting history is any indication, this is not what he believes. Basically, he’s taken the most extreme comments from Reason articles on cops, reworded them to make some sense in context, and then strung them together to form a post. He’s catfishing and you took the bait.

        1. It’s always best not to respond to me, and I’m the first to admit that. See a comment of mine? Think twice, turn away. Must…. resist…….

        2. I see that now.

        3. There was this 2003 story from New London, CT, where a fellow was deemed to be:

          Too smart to be a cop .

          Kevin R

          1. Correction: 2013 story

            Kevin R

      2. Sorry but people are way too stupid and irresponsible to be voting for ‘masters’ to instruct and train their attack dogs properly. That is crazy utopian nonsense. The way to deal with dogs that bite is to bite back. Like I said, stupid fucking pigs. Stupid. Fucking. Pigs. And woodchippers. Where are the woodchippers?

  6. This sort of thing just breaks my heart. Just utterly sad that a young man, and an 18 year old should be considered a man, gets in trouble for having one of the most basic tools that, frankly, everyone should have. I’ve carried a knife since i was 8 years old. In fact I have two with me right now. A swiss army knife and a pen knife. You hear that, I carry TWO knives.

    1. “That’s not a knife. This is a knife”

    2. Nice to know someone else follows Rule #9.

  7. I love the fact that you are guilty of breaking the law even if you didn’t know that you had a weapon in your vehicle. What is that strange concept? Mens urethra or something?

  8. “Most boys, they tell me, carried pocketknives. They went hunting and fishing in the mornings, before classes. They belonged to archery clubs that would meet on school grounds. Their school facilities had smoking rooms.”

    They held strong opinions, stated without qualification or caveat. It was the law of tooth and nail, and men lived like animals!

  9. But zero tolerance for girls is still cool, right?

    1. that’s exactly what he said and you’re very clever

  10. All too many people that I know–not just government officials–want desperately to believe that the problems plaguing our society can be remedied by simple fixes, like taking guns, knives, fingernail clippers, etc. away. “Well, if they don’t have feared object then they can’t harm anybody!” These people just don’t get that it’s not that easy.

    Yeah, I carried a pocketknife to school, and I also got into fights. It never even entered my mind to pull the knife out and stab my opponent, and it never occurred to him to stab me either. What has changed in our society? If there is really a common risk that two boys fighting in a schoolyard will pull blades, why is that? Or, perhaps, have people just become so fearful and risk-averse that they’re seeing a boogeyman that isn’t there?

    One way or the other, those are the things that really need fixing. Trying to solve the problem by confiscating every harmful object is futile.

    1. + 1 pointed stick

  11. If you had searched the boys in the elementary school I attended in the sixties, you would have found a pen knife in the pockets of almost every one. A rural Midwestern boy over six was not properly attired without one. No one got stabbed.

  12. We used to have rifle club. Practiced in the school basement and competed against other schools.

  13. The technology is so developed that we can watch videos, live streaming, TV serials and any of our missed programs within our mobiles and PCs. Showbox
    All we need is a mobile or PC with a very good internet connection. There are many applications by which we can enjoy videos, our missed programs, live streaming etc.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.